Do you know where your Will Is?
Or more to the point do your Executors know where your Will is? Recent figures suggest that only one in three people have a Will so if you have gone to the effort of doing a Will is it going to be easy for your executor to find it when the time comes? After all you are not going to be there to tell them where it is hidden.
If you have used a solicitor to draft your Will they may have offered to keep it safe for you but you may have decided to keep it at home either in a safe place or have just filed it in amongst your other paperwork. If you are one of the million or so people who have used “do it yourself” Will kits then it is likely that it will be kept at home somewhere.
If your Executor cannot locate the original Will but can only find a photocopy it can be very expensive to put right later and may delay the administration of your Estate.
If an original Will is missing the Courts presumption is that it is missing because you have decided to change your mind and have destroyed it. It will be up to your heirs to convince the courts that it has been lost rather than destroyed. This can be a difficult and time consuming process involving swearing affidavits and supplying evidence as to why it is thought that the Will was not revoked.
If the Courts do not accept that the Will was not destroyed deliberately it may mean that your assets may be inherited by people you do not intend or wish to benefit. For example, if you are not married but wish to leave your Estate to your partner, if there is no valid Will then they may not inherit anything and your assets will be left to your children or other relatives if you have no children, rather than your partner. There have been cases where inheritances have been paid to estranged biological parents rather than a long standing partner despite the fact that the parent had abandoned the deceased at birth. Alternatively, if you previously had a valid Will but decided to change this because you had fallen out with a family member then you may find that the previous Will takes precedence.
If you have gone to the trouble of preparing a Will then let your Executors know where the original document is located and provide them with a copy. Let them know if you do revoke it or have done a fresh Will. Let your family know where it is kept or ensure it is kept safe by your lawyer, accountant or Bank and again let your Executors and family know where it is kept. It could save a lot of expense and heartache at a time when your family are already grieving.