Find out where you should and should not be keeping your will
In recent years, we have noticed an increase in the number of Wills that are hard to locate when the willmaker dies.
This might be because :-
- the willmaker has made his own Will and left it at home in an apparently safe place
- he has made a Will with a Solicitor and taken the original home for safekeeping.
If the Will is placed in a “safe place” at home, that place may not be known to the Executor who can have great problems finding it.
Or if the willmaker is aged or has developed dementia, the original Will might be thrown out by mistake.
If the Will is lost, the Executor may have great trouble proving the Will as the Court starts with a general presumption that the willmaker has deliberately destroyed it.
This could result in an earlier Will being proved which might not have reflected the willmaker’s last wishes, or if there was no previous Will, the rules of intestacy apply which can have great implication for the beneficiaries as there is a statutory formula in deciding who gets what in this situation.
Again this might provide a result never intended by the willmaker and seriously disadvantage potential beneficiaries.
Where Should I Keep My Will?
We suggest that if you make a Will leave it in a safe place that can be accessed by your Executor when required.
Some clients place Wills in safes at home. This can be problematic if the safe code is not known by the Executor.
Other clients leave them at their bank. There can be difficulties accessing these Wills as bank protocols must be followed. Sometimes Executors do not know which bank holds the Will.
We believe that the best place for your Will is in your Solicitor’s office.
Phillips & Wilkins has a strongroom where we file all Wills made by our clients and left with us for safekeeping. There is no charge for this service.
Indeed we also hold many self-made Wills of clients in our strongroom (again at no charge) as we believe that it is so important that Wills are safely held.
The other advantage we offer clients is that not only do we hold original Wills at no charge, we also scan them on to our computerised records, so we always have a copy of the signed Will available if required.
If you have thought through how you wish your assets to be distributed upon your death and have made a Will reflecting those wishes, why risk your wishes not being carried out by placing your Will in a place where it cannot be found?
Grant has been a partner at Phillips & Wilkins since 1990 having joined the firm in 1983. He is a member of the Law Institute of Victoria Elder Law Committee. Learn more about Grant's legal experience.