You are a responsible person and you have made a Will. Of course you do not want to tell the whole world that you have a Will, but at the same time you want to make sure that your Will will not be misplaced, or 'misplaced'.
To achieve that, you must store your physical Will in a secure place. The corner container in the kitchen cabinet or under your mattress may not be the best options. Here are a few commonly used places to store a physical Will.
Commonly used places to store a physical Will 1) Safe deposit box 2) Custody (e.g. lawyer or notary public) 3) Will Registry/register
1) Safe deposit box
Some banks still provide safe deposit boxes where you can store your Will, together with valuable items and title deeds. In some countries, renting a safe deposit box is quite expensive, ranging from $100 to $500 a year for a small-sized box.
Since you are dealing with a bank, it will be tedious in terms of paperwork, access etc. Plus, it's not unheard of that deposit boxes were misplaced during a branch closure, drilled open or force-closed by mistake.
In any event, you need to make sure that your person of confidence knows about the safe deposit box and has access to the safe deposit box after you pass away (this includes but not limited to the physical key, identification with the bank, passwords). Even so, it is not guaranteed that your person of confidence will have access to the box because, in certain countries, the law requires the safe deposit box of a deceased person to be blocked and force-opened.
In other words, if you go for this option, you must give specific instructions to your person of confidence, otherwise your Will will not be found. It might be difficult to talk about those things into the minute details and, obviously, it is less than ideal if you were to fall out with your person of confidence.
2) Custody (e.g. lawyer or notary public)
There exist professional Will Custody service options to store your Will in a safe and secure environment. Some law firms and notary public in civil law countries also offer the service of keeping the actual document in a vault. The service costs around $80 per year or $800 for lifetime custody.
Here as well, you must tell your person of confidence in which state or country or which custodian, law firm or notary public has custody of your will and check with the custodian on how they will give access to your Will. Otherwise, your Will will not be found.
3) State-run Will Registries and other commercial will registers
Some states and some countries run a Will Registry. A similar service is also provided by commercial local will registers.
It is worth noting that, with rare exceptions, those facilities do not store the Will itself. They only allow you to record some information about your Will and charge a fee ranging between $50 and $100 per registration (costs may vary).
Information that usually sits in the registry is:
details of the person who made the will;
date of the will;
details of the person who helped draw up the will;
details of where the actual will is held.
Your actual Will is normally not stored in the Registry. However, if authorized persons check with the Registry, it may help them locate the actual document, to the extent that they are able to determine which Will Registry or register to query, and notably if your assets and potential beneficiaries are located in different jurisdictions.
Then, it boils down to the question if your Will is still where the Registry or register says it is. Otherwise, your Will will not be found.
Plus, many Will Registries, mainly in continental Europe, only allow a lawyer or notary public to check with the Registry and have access to information. This could cause a delay in the entire process of finding your Will and your estate distributed according to your wishes.
The key takeaways from this note are that existing solutions neither guarantee at the same time that your Will will be stored securely nor can be found promptly after you pass away. Only liteWill combines the advantages of registering your Will in a safe place and making sure that your Will will be found.
Writing your Will is the very first step, and it’s an important one. But that’s not enough. In the digital age, the next step is to store your Will online. Otherwise, what happens if your person of confidence is not able to find your Will in a timely manner? liteWill is the only Will registration platform that is available globally and that provides the option to store your Will online. ‘A Will that is not online is like a Will that does not exist’.
This portion of the website is for information only. The statements and opinions are the expression of their author, not of liteWill, and have not been evaluated for accuracy, completeness or changes in the law. Information contained in this article is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.
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