What Do You Do With a Last Will & Testament After It Is Drawn Up?

by Beverly Bird
    Keep your last will and testament in a safe place where your executor can find it.

    Keep your last will and testament in a safe place where your executor can find it.

    John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Where you put your last will and testament for safekeeping until your loved ones need it depends a great deal on your personal circumstances. Some people find that leaving it with an attorney or some other professional works best. Some are comfortable with a family member retaining it. There are other options, as well, but whichever you choose, make sure that the executor you have named in your will knows where to locate it.

    Close Personal Friend

    If you give your will to an individual to hold on to for you, bear in mind that he can easily read it unless you seal it with wax or by some other method. Relationships also change over time, so be sure that if you choose a friend, he will still be your friend in the future. Your executor can ask him for your will after you pass away, but only if your executor knows where to find him. If he relocates to parts unknown and takes your will with him, the law will treat it as though you died intestate, or without any will at all.

    Your Executor

    You can save your executor the time and effort of locating your will after your death if you give it to her for safekeeping. Since this is the person who will be responsible for submitting the will for probate and overseeing settlement of your estate, this option is uncomplicated and it affords you a degree of privacy. No one else will know the contents of your will – or even that you have made one – until after you pass away and your executor files it for probate.

    Safe Location at Home

    Many people choose to keep their wills with other important papers at home. Options range from your freezer or other appliance where it is not likely to become unreadable in a natural disaster, to a fireproof lockbox or safe. However, depending on who you reside with, it might not remain confidential for long if you keep your will at home. Family members will have access to it if they know where to look and have the combination to your lockbox or safe.

    Safe Deposit Box

    If you choose to place your will in your safe deposit box, it might cause a problem for your executor later, even if he knows it is there. Most states require that he file a request with the court to have it opened after your death so he can retrieve the will.

    A Will Registry

    Some states allow you to personally place your will with the court before your death. Others, such as Louisiana, allow you to make a record of where you have put your will so your executor can find it after your death. There are also commercial registries that will do this for you for a fee.

    About the Author

    Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

    Photo Credits

    • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images