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If you’ve gone through the process of writing a will, it’s worth thinking about where you should keep it so that it’s easy for your loved ones to find. This’ll make sure that your final wishes are taken care of, and you can be confident that your family will receive their inheritance in the way you’d like.  

 

Inheritance is a gift you leave someone in your will that they’ll get after you die. This is usually money or property.
Emma Mulholland, Legal Content Expert

We’ll take you through the different ways of storing a will and what you should know about the process. 

Different ways of storing a will 

What’s the best place to store your will? There are a few different ways of storing a will, all of which have their benefits and risks. We’ll take you through each option so you can figure out which is best for you. 

Storing a will at home 

This might be the obvious choice. Perhaps you’d keep it locked away in a drawer or in a small safe at the back of the wardrobe? This will make it simpler for your family to find it when you pass away. But you also run the risk that it could be damaged, lost or stolen. Or there’s a chance your family may not remember where you said you put it. And if it’s not registered or stored somewhere else as well, your final wishes may not be carried out.  

Storing your will with the Probate Registry 

You can store your will with the Probate Registry in England and Wales for £20. (Storing a will with the Probate Registry is sometimes referred to as storing a will with the probate service.) All you have to do is post it along with your payment to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service. Before you send it, you’ll need to print off a special label to attach to the envelope. You’ll need to fill this out and get it signed by a witness. It’ll take about 2 weeks to be lodged with the Probate Registry. You’ll then be sent a certificate as a form of receipt. You can find out more details about this process by visiting the Gov.uk website here

If you store your will with the Probate Registry, it’s easy for your family to find it when you die. To get a copy, they’ll need to provide the Registry with a letter of authority, but there’s no fee to pay. You can find more information about getting a copy of a will from the Probate Registry by checking the Gov.uk website here or by emailing safecustodywillsenquiries@justice.gov.uk.  

Storing your will with your solicitor 

If you asked a solicitor to help you write your will then they may also offer to store it for you at no extra cost. But it’s worth knowing that some solicitors might charge for this service. Their fees can vary so it’s a good idea to get a quote for storage at the time of writing your will if possible.  

Storing a will with a solicitor can give you peace of mind because they’re heavily regulated. If, for example, the firm who stored it for you closed down, they’d have to transfer your will to another firm for storage. They’ll also have special insurance policies in place called ‘indemnity insurance’ to cover any damage to important documents such as wills. This would also cover if they lost your will. So, you know that if anything did ever happen to your will while it’s stored with your solicitor, they’d have to make it right in the form of compensation for your affected loved ones.  

To get a copy of your will when you die, your family can get in touch with the solicitors you left it with.  

Storing it with a will writing service 

Storing your will with a will writer is often a more affordable option than using a solicitor. But there are higher risks involved. This is because will writing services aren’t regulated in the same way that solicitors are. So, it’s always worth checking to see if they have any processes or insurance policies in place before writing and storing your will with them. Ask them what would happen if it got damaged? Or if they went out of business? And always ask for a copy of your will for your own records. 

Do you need to register your will? 

You don’t have to register your will in the UK. But it can give you that extra peace of mind about it being found when you pass away. Some law firms and will writing services may offer to do this for you as part of making your will. But if they don’t you can do it yourself at the National Will Register. It’s easy to fill out the form and start the process and it costs £30. This means that your will is then stored at their unique storage facility. It’ll be kept in a waterproof wallet in a specialist archive, and it’s fully insured against any loss or damage. You can also choose to store other important documents there such as power of attorney. You and the executors of your will receive ID cards with a unique storage reference number so that it’s easy for them to access your will when you die. They can do this free of charge.  

An executor is the person, or people, who is or are legally responsible for sorting out someone’s will.
Emma Mulholland, Legal Content Expert

How much does it cost to store a will? 

Here are the different ways of storing a will along with the linked costs so you can compare your options: 

Different ways of storing a will 

Costs 

At home 

Free 

With the courts (Probate Registry) 

£20 

With a solicitor 

Approximately £50 per year (or it might be for free if they wrote it for you) 

With a will writing service 

Dependent on the provider you choose 

With the National Will Register 

£30 

To get a clearer idea of the total cost of making a will read our guide: What you should know about the cost of making a will 

Tell your executor where you’re storing your will 

When you’re in the process of making your will and thinking about how the future will look for your loved ones, it’s important to talk things through with them. Not only from a practical point of view, but to let them know what you’d like to do with your estate, what your final wishes are and what you’d like to have at your funeral. It can be a strange conversation to have with them. But letting them know all these things, ahead of time, is a good way of making sure that there are no surprises, and that figuring out your personal affairs once you’re gone is a straightforward process.

A person’s estate is the legal term for everything they own.
Emma Mulholland, Legal Content Expert

Disclaimer: The contents of this article is intended as information only and does not constitute legal advice. Always seek advice from a specialist solicitor when you need support with wills and probate.

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