Where Should I Put My Will?

If your will was prepared by a lawyer, finding a place to store it isn’t a problem because lawyers are happy to do that for their clients. But when you make a will yourself you don’t have that option.

Some people think the probate court or a government office should store it for them because a will is an important legal document. Unfortunately, this is a service they do not provide, so you are on your own.

A common solution is to put your signed will in a safety deposit box at your bank. Let your executor know where it is, and arrange for him or her to have access, if necessary. You don’t have to give your executor signing authority to enter your box while you are alive, but you should show him or her where you keep the key. Most banks will let an executor with a key into the box after a death to make a list of the contents and to remove the original will. Then the bank locks the box and doesn’t let the executor or anyone else reopen it until the executor returns with a probate certificate from the surrogate court.

Trust companies also store their clients’ wills in their own secure storage vaults. If you are naming a trust company as your executor you are entitled to this service at no charge.

In any event, make sure your will is safe from damage and loss, and that it will be easily accessible when needed by your executor.

For more tips on how to write your legal will, read Write Your Legal Will in 3 Easy Steps by Tom Carter (for Canadians) or Write Your Legal Will in 3 Easy Steps by Robert C. Waters (for Americans).

Write Your Legal Will

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