How to Store Wills

by Anna Assad

Your will specifies how your assets are going to be divided among your beneficiaries after your death, and names your executor, the person who will oversee your estate and fulfill your will's provisions. If you die and your will cannot be located, your estate will not be accepted for probate, the legal proceeding used to give your executor legal authority to carry out your final wishes. So the method of storing your will is important, but which method is best for you depends on your personal and financial circumstances.

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Step 1

File your will for safekeeping in the probate court with jurisdiction over where you live. The will remains on file and can be accessed for probate after your death, but is not public record while you are still living. Bring your state identification with you. A filing fee may be required; the amount varies by area. File any new will or codicil -- a modification to your will -- you later make in the same court for safekeeping to ensure the new provisions are accounted for.

Step 2

Put your will in a bank safe deposit box. Bring your identification and the will with you; fees for renting a box depend on your bank and the box size you select. Only you and any other person you name on the safe deposit box lease form will be able to access its contents without a court order. Consider putting the name of your will's executor, a trusted friend or relative on the lease to allow for faster access to your will in the future.

Step 3

Give your will to your personal attorney for storage. The attorney may charge you a fee for this service. Give the attorney you used to prepare the will, if any, a copy of the document with a letter directing where the original will is located if you decide to store the document elsewhere.

Step 4

Put your will in a safe spot in your home. Use a fireproof file cabinet, box or safe to prevent your will from being lost in case of a disaster.

Step 5

Put your will with other important documents if you do not wish to use a fireproof holder. Inform a trusted friend, relative or your executor of the will's location.