Once you have signed your Will it becomes a very important document. It makes good sense to look after it, because it becomes even more important after you have passed away.
To obtain a Grant of Probate, your Executors must submit your signed Will to the Probate Office. Only then will your Executors be allowed to administer your estate.
What if the signed Will cannot be found?
Your estate is intestate! In these circumstances the rules of intestacy determine the distribution of your assets. This outcome might be very different from your signed Will.
What condition should it be in?
Your Will must be in good condition. If there is evidence of tampering or staples, cello-tape or paper clips, pen or pencil marks, the Probate Office is likely to make vigorous enquiries about its authenticity. Even spillages and marks left by coffee cups create a suspicion the Will is not what it should be. Wills presented with scribbles or ‘helpful’ notes indicating a change of address or name are strong suggestions that your Will may not be reliable. These seemingly minor infringements may delay the issue of the Grant of Probate. This means the discharge of the estate is held up, or even lead to it being nullified.
What is a safe storage place?
Have you stored your signed Will in a safe place? But will the right people find it when you are not there? Cupboards, drawers and ‘boxes under the bed’ are not safe. What if an unscrupulous person accidentally finds your signed Will? What if they read it and then destroy it because they did not like what they see? It happens!
How can you lose a Will?
When moving house, spring cleaning and decluttering.
Wills can be very appealing to children wanting to a nice piece of paper to draw on. Pets can take a fancy to a new plaything. Mice and insects are unwanted pests, but they eat paper, especially if damp.
What is the best way to store a signed Will?
The answer is simple. Controlled storage keeps your signed Will in pristine condition. It is found quickly. It is delivered timely to the right people.
The moral of the story
A Will that is not properly looked after or found when it is needed, is the equivalent of a Will that does not exist.
Hay Tarn can advise on Will storage and all other Willwriting Services including probate, contentious probate, lasting power of attorney, court of protection and conveyancing.