Who Should Have the Original Copy of Your Will?

2nd Aug 2023

Who Should Have the Original Copy of Your Will?

It might surprise you that as many as 67% of Americans don't have a will. While they might recognize the importance of choice, they either haven't taken the time to make one or don't like facing their mortality.

For the Americans who have done the planning and made sure their beneficiaries are protected, they have a will or a copy of it.

Have you ever wondered who keeps the original copy of a will? Since the last will and testament for someone is considered a legal document and often involves many assets, where should a will get kept?

Read on to learn where to keep your will once completed.

Who Keeps the Original Copy of a Will?

Creating a will tells the probate court how you want your assets distributed upon death. While most people seek the help of an estate attorney to create a will, you can also make one yourself from an online source.

But then, who keeps the original copy of a will once it's done? Let's take a closer look at your options.

Estate Attorney

One of the most common choices is to leave the original copy of your will with your estate planning lawyer.

They will have a safe place to keep the original, and there will be access to it when it's needed. Since the lawyer helped you write the will, the original is readily available if you want to make any changes.

One thing worth noting, the estate planning attorney won't be watching death notices. Your heirs or executor must know to come to the lawyer for the original.

Safe Deposit Box

Another location for will and other estate planning documents is a safe deposit box that you can rent from your bank. A safe deposit box is a good choice for a few reasons.

First, it's completely secure and locked up by the bank. Access to the safety deposit box is only allowed through the bank and the proper identification. These safety deposit boxes are fire-safe in addition to being locked.

Will's Executor

The executor of a will is legally tasked with ensuring the wishes listed in the will are followed. When you choose someone to act as your executor, it's assumed you have the trust and confidence they will follow your wishes.

It's also assumed that you've shared with your loved ones who will act as the executor. So, choosing your executor to keep your original document might make sense.

You should only choose this option if you believe they will keep it in a secure, fire-safe location.

State's Register of Wills

Many states across the US allow you to register your will with their register of wills. This location would work closely with the probate court since probate is responsible for following your will.

Laws vary by state, but some object to this option because filing a will can mean it becomes a matter of public record.

Keep It Yourself

Of course, you can also keep your original copy of your will. You want to ensure the will gets locked up and safe from fire. You must also confirm your loved ones know where you've placed your will.

Places to Not Keep Your Will

There are also some familiar places where people will put their original copy of a will that might not be the best choice.

Let's examine why some places might not be a good choice.

A Safe Hiding Place

People recognize that the original copy of a will is both important and something to be protected. So, they choose a spot in their home that they perceive as necessary, a safe hiding place.

The problem with a safe hiding place is that it's a hiding place, and others may not know where you put the will when needed.

Box of Papers

In the same spirit, it's not uncommon to have that box of important papers. You think you need to keep these papers but often no longer need them over time.

To others, the box might look like a box of random papers without recognizing the significance of the documents.

Filing Cabinet or Drawer

A random drawer or filing cabinet falls into the same kind of category. While you might recognize it's where you keep specific important papers, others might not.

It could get mixed in with papers that aren't actually as important, and then your heirs or executor won't know where to look.

Safe Deposit Box

It might surprise you to hear that a safe deposit box could be a good choice and a wrong choice too.

The problem that can arise with a safe deposit box is that banks can limit access. If the box belongs to you, your heirs might be unable to get into it when needed.

Some banks will freeze access to the safe deposit box, even if others are listed.

With Your Executor

In some cases, your executor might also not be the best choice. While you trust the person because they are your executor, they might not have a safe place to keep it.

If Your Will Is Lost, What Happens?

Understanding what happens if your will can't be located when you die is important.

The probate court will consider you as intestate status, which simply means you have died without a will. Several consequences can result.

Your estate will need to go through the probate court system. The probate court executor might not follow your exact wishes. It can also delay the distribution of assets to potential heirs.

Probate can also be expensive for the estate.

Keeping Track of Who Keeps the Original Copy of a Will

Knowing who keeps the original copy of a will can mean your estate is handled precisely to your wishes when you die. Make sure you choose a secure location and inform your heirs and executor of its location.

If you help to write wills and other important legal documents, we can help with your documents. Contact us today to learn more about the will supplies we have available.