Once you have signed your Last Will and Testament where should you keep it? How do you know that your loved ones will be able to find it?
This is an important concern because if the original is lost, it may not be found when it is needed. Or, even worse, it may be found years later after everything has been distributed in way that you did not intend (leading to guilt and upset for your family).
Here is what we advise our clients:
- Keep your original will in a safe place that you, your spouse and your executor (and alternate executor) can access. Do not keep it in a safe deposit box unless your executor and alternate executors also have access to that box. A good place is a fireproof safe or box at your home or office.
- Give copies to important people. For example, your attorney’s office, your spouse, your executor(s), and perhaps your children can have copies. These copies can be paper copies and/or digital (pdf) copies.
- Keep a digital copy on your own computer and know how to access it.
- Keep your original Will clean. Don’t let it get wet, musty or dirty. Don’t set your coffee cup on it, unstaple and restaple it, or write on it. (these acts can make it invalid or difficult to read).
- Yes, you can probate a copy of a will, but it is more complicated to do so and it costs more money to do so. However, it can be done. So, if your will is lost in a move or flood, then it is possible to get a judge to accept a copy.
- When you update your will, gather and destroy all the prior wills and tell your loved ones to do the same. Don’t allow multiple versions to float around.