How to Store and Access Your Will

16 February 2016

If you are one of only 30% of adults in the UK who have already taken steps to protect their family and financial assets by making a Will, how much thought did you give to where your Will would be safely stored, and how easy is it for your next of kin to find it?

Being able to safely store and easily locate your Will could mean the difference between making a legally valid Will that can be accessed and used right away, or officially dying "intestate" meaning that there was no Will or that no Will could be found. This often creates many problems for many families particularly for those family members that know you made a Will but couldn't find it. This situation often causes unpleasant disputes between family members which can last for many years.

When you consider that making a Single Will costs from just £150 including the VAT and free secure storage for your lifetime, stored by Co-op Legal Services which is Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority; then £150 is a small price to pay for making your Will easy to find, and making your wishes known after you pass away.

If you have not made your Will yet, take some time to consider how and where you will store it – it is more in depth than it would seem!

So what are your options when thinking about storing your Will and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each option?

Keep your Will yourself – the benefit to this option is that it is completely free, however there are lots of risks attached to doing this. Your Will could be damaged by flood or fire, it could be lost if you move home for example or even thrown away by mistake. One of the key considerations is whether your family or executor know where to find it, and if it cannot be located or if it was never known to have existed then you could be treated as dying intestate; so the law would decide who gets what.

Register the Will with the Probate Service – you can pay the Probate service a fee of £20 to keep your Will during your lifetime. This does mean that if you change your Will, which will probably be necessary throughout your lifetime if you get married, divorced or have children, you will have to pay an additional £20 to resubmit your new Will. Once you die, your executors who are named in your Will, have the authority to request your Will from storage.

How Co-op Legal Services store it securely – there are a number of benefits to having us store your Will for you. If we write your Will for you then we will store it for your lifetime free of charge. We also provide you with a number of copies of the document at your request. By keeping your Will with us, you can tell your family exactly where to find your Will and have peace of mind that your Will is safe and well protected. Our safe Will storage facility is protected by 24 hour security, CCTV, intruder alarms, humidity and fire control systems and electronically coded doors too!

What Not to Do with Your Will

Do not keep your Will in a bank or bank safety deposit box because when you die, no-one can access your bank account or deposit box without first getting Probate (if required) and this could potentially take months (or longer) to access to your Will.

Don't pay an annual storage fee - a number of companies charge for storing a Will, sometimes on an annual basis.

Don't make a Will and never think about it again - a Will should accurately reflect your wishes and if you get married, the simple act of marriage actually revokes your existing Will. So, updating and re-writing your Will is essential throughout the milestones in your lifetime.

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