Ideally, you keep it in a place where it will be safe from disasters like fire or flood, secure from thieves or snoops, but also easy for your loved ones to find when the time comes.
If your will was simply lost or accidentally destroyed, it still reflects your wishes. A copy of the will can be submitted to the court, and the court may (but does not have to) open a probate based on that copy.
Look through the deceased's property
The most obvious place to look is with the deceased's paperwork or in their filing cabinets or home safe. Even if the Will is not there, you may find a clue as to its whereabouts, such as a letter from their solicitor or a receipt from a Wills storage facility.
The National Will Register is our preferred provider of a National Will Register and will search service. It's used by thousands of solicitors every day to register and search for wills.
If a solicitor writes your will, they will usually store the original free of charge and give you a copy – but ask them to make sure. Most solicitors will also store a will they didn't write, but there will probably be a fee.
Scans, photocopies and computer records are not legally valid because they don't have your original signature on them. The original Will is your only Will and must be kept safely. One place you should never keep an original Will is at home. If you have a fire, flood or burglary, you risk losing your Will.
Banks. Some banks offer will writing and storage services. However, wills stored in a bank should be accessible to executors (ie safety deposit boxes are generally not suitable - see below).
The principal probate registry is located at the following address in London: The Probate Department, The Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NP.
A Will can be stored in your home in a personal safe, a locked filing cabinet, or in another safe location. If you store your Will in a location that requires a combination, password, or key for entry, be sure to share that information with someone you trust, such as your spouse, your adult children, or your attorney.
Most joint bank accounts include automatic rights of survivorship, which means that after one account signer dies, the remaining signer (or signers) retain ownership of the money in the account. The surviving primary account owner can continue using the account, and the money in it, without any interruptions.
You should store the original will until after the death of the client, or until you are able to return the original to the client. Some firms keep wills indefinitely, while others have a policy of holding the original will for fifty years from the date of its creation.
A will may have been attested by two witnesses and duly signed by the testator but if it's not dated, it becomes void. The law also says that a new will with a later date would make the previous one null and void. If a will is termed invalid, the court distributes the property as if no will ever existed.
There is no legal requirement as to where you must register, deposit or store your will, but some places are better than others. Wherever you decide to keep it, tell your executors where it is so that they can find it quickly after your death.
Tracing the original will is crucial as the probate registry will always insist on the original before they issue a grant of probate. If the original cannot be traced then a complex application can still be made to the Probate Registry. This will seek an order that the copy will be admitted to probate.
Usually, a copy of a Will would be kept with the person's important papers. If you cannot find a copy, then contacting the law firm that acted for the deceased is the best starting point. This may be a law firm that has acted for them in purchasing of property, family law cases or business advice.
Because probate files are public court records that anyone can read, you should be able to obtain a copy of it any will that has been filed for probate. 1 And with modern technology comes the ability to locate information about a deceased person's estate online, and in most cases for absolutely free.
Make Changes to an Existing Will
A testator can revoke a will by making changes to parts of an existing will. The newly-amended will, now called a “codicil”, has the effect of creating a new will because it can change key aspects of an existing will, including new beneficiaries and property designations.
Who can contest a will? Theoretically, anyone can challenge a will, whether that's a sibling, or someone who doesn't appear to benefit on first glance, but may be a residuary beneficiary. However, contesting a will is not something you should consider without good reason.
A will can be challenged on the ground that the document was forged or that, despite the will being genuine, the signature appended, intended to be accepted as the testator's signature, is forged.
Once the executor of the will has applied for Probate (the legal and financial processes involved in dealing with the assets of a person who has died), the will becomes a public document and you can obtain a copy of it to check if you are a beneficiary of the estate.
Can an executor ignore a will, though? Absolutely not. If the executor tries to withhold bequests, or if they act against the interests of the beneficiaries – for example, by selling property at an unreasonably low price – they can be taken to court.
After an individual has passed away, the executor who is the person or people who have been appointed in the will to administer the estate is the only person entitled to see the will and read its contents.
Many banks have arrangements in place to help pay for funeral expenses from the deceased person's account (you should contact the bank to find out more). You may also need to get access for living expenses, at least until a social welfare payment is awarded.