You've finalised your Will and had it signed in front of two witnesses. Now, where do you store it?
As a legal document, it is important to keep your Will it in a safe and secure place, that is easily accessible for your Executor (who will need the original to file for probate).
While you can store many documents online, unfortunately your Will is not one of them. Australian legislation requires the original signed document to ensure that it is legally binding. A digital copy of the document is not sufficient in the eyes of the law, or when applying for a Grant of Probate.
If you choose to store your original Will at home, a fireproof and waterproof safe or metal box is the best option. This will protect it from any potential damage such as flood or electrical fire and ensure it remains safe from prying eyes.
If you are unable to store it in fireproof and waterproof safe, try to find a location that is secure so that it remains private until you have passed. This could be in a locked filing cabinet or secure home office space. Once you have chosen the location, make sure that your Executor will have access to your home upon your death and give clear instructions on where the Will is stored and how to access it.
If you are unable to find a safe place at home to store your Will, a safe deposit box is an option. Most commonly found at banks, these are secure locations that require identification to access. However, it is important to check the bank requirements for accessing the safe deposit box after your death to ensure the Executor can open it. Some banks require a certified copy of the original Will or probate to open a safe deposit box, which creates an issue if the original document is stored inside.
Another option is to store your Will with your Executor, as they will be the person who needs the document upon your death. Be sure to ask if they have a safe and secure way to store the document to avoid any potential damage or loss.
A key consideration when storing your Will with your Executor is the possibility that they may read it before your passing. If you wish for the document to remain private, you can give it to your Executor in a sealed envelope with specific instructions to wait until your death to open.
Other useful documents to store with your Will include life insurance policies, funeral plans and any final messages you wish to be shared after your death.
If you have created your Will using the Willed platform, it is also possible to store video messages and other documents online to share with family and friends.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.