Your Will is a legally valuable document. It states who will inherit your property and possessions when you pass away, as well as who you’ve chosen as guardian for your minor children. After you’ve finished writing your Will, the next step is to keep it secure. In Utah, writing a Will is an essential component of the estate planning process. However, if your Will is lost or destroyed, or your heirs cannot locate or access it, your efforts may be in vain. Most people spend a lot of time preparing their Will, but they often neglect to store them somewhere safe and secure. There are numerous safe places to keep your Will, but there are also several places you should not keep it as well. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for storing your Will, but here are a few things to consider.
Why Is It Important for Your Will to Be Easily Accessible?
When selecting where to store your last Will, there are two essential factors to consider. First, you want your Will to be simple to locate and access after your passing. Second, you want your Will to be protected from harm or loss while you are alive. Your Will must be filed in its original copy to the probate court, where it will be authorized. A photocopy or a digital version will not suffice. Your personal representative who is also known as an executor (the person you select in your Will to carry out your intentions) will execute your instructions and transfer your assets to your beneficiaries after the court authorizes it. Your chosen executor cannot carry out your wishes and intentions unless they know where the original copy of your Will is. If not found, the court will divide your assets following state law, which may or may not reflect your wishes.
Which Places Should You Not Keep Your Will?
Do not store your Will in any of the following areas, which may either be inaccessible or insecure:
- A Secret Hidden Location: If your executor is unaware of this isolated location, they can’t access the Will when it’s time to divide your estate.
- Bank Safety Deposit Box: Never store your Will in a safe deposit box at a bank. When the testator dies, the bank cannot access the deposit box until the executor gets probate. Probate grants permission from the court to administer your affairs, which cannot be accepted without the original copy of your Will. Make sure that your Will is obtainable without the need for probate.
- On Your Computer or Online Digital Storage Service: Digital copies of your Will are useless, as the probate court does not accept digital copies of Wills.
- With Your Executor: While your executor needs access to your Will, storing it at their residence will not secure or safeguard it.
- On a Desk or in a Filing Cabinet: Papers kept at home are readily misfiled, misplaced, or lost.
- Keeping Your Will in a Box, File, or Package: If your last Will mixes with other papers or objects, it may be misplaced or thrown out.
Where Should You Keep Your Will?
The law does not require you to deposit your Will in any particular location. Therefore, choose the safest and most suitable option for you. There are numerous secure locations where you can keep your Will, such as the following:
1. Filed and Secured at the Probate Court.
The safest and most suitable location for storing your Will is the probate court. Many states advise testators to keep their last Will secure by filling it with the probate court. However, just filing a Will does not imply that it has been enacted or admitted into probate. You may always take it away, modify it, or destroy it as you see fit. If you choose this option, make sure your executor knows its location, in order that they may handle your affairs in a timely manner.
2. Keep It With Your Lawyer.
If you have your last Will prepared by a lawyer, they may offer to store it in their safe. Since the Will is in your lawyer’s safe keep and maintained in a secure location for important papers, this is the second-best choice for you. It is not inaccessible, and is being protected with the utmost security by a legal professional. You have the option to have it returned at any time. And you are not obliged to deal with the same attorney or law office if you want to modify the Will.
3. Keep It at Home.
Many people choose to keep their Wills at home. This is a viable option only if you have a secure storage option, such as a locked safe to store it in. Keep in mind that storing your Will at home (outside of a safe) exposes it to the danger of fire, smoke, or water damage, loss, or theft. Keeping your Will in a fireproof safe adds an extra layer of protection against these dangers. However, if you want to keep your Will in a fireproof safe, you must inform your representative of its location. You should also disclose the safe combination to someone you trust or your executor, to avoid complications regarding access after your passing. Regardless of where you keep your Will, you should notify your executor, alternate executor, and close family members. They should know your Will has been written, where it is kept, and how they may obtain it if you pass away. Your Will should be accessible at the time it is needed.
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Dealing with death and planning for what comes after can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. With ProvenLaw, you can work through these complexities together with expert legal counsel and get the help you need to decide on the delicate estate planning choices you will need to make to ensure that your loved ones are well cared for in the event of your passing. Whether you need to adjust an existing trust or are looking to create a new will, please contact us for your complimentary personal consultation and we’ll get you on the road to peace of mind.