Making a will is a crucial step in ensuring that your wishes are honored and your loved ones are taken care of after you're gone.
Once you've created your will, where should you store it to ensure it's safe, accessible, and legally valid when needed? In British Columbia, there are several different aspects of will storage and access to consider.
When a person dies, their executor’s job begins right away. One of the very first tasks the executor will do is provide instructions to a funeral service about the preparation of remains. The executor will need to provide the will as evidence that they are the proper person to be giving instructions. Due to this, quick and easy access to the will is vital. So making sure that the will is in a safe and secure location that is known to the executor is a key decision.
Original versus Copy
An important element to consider is the difference between the original will, and a copy of that will. Both are important, but taking proper care of the original will is crucial. The original will is used by the executor to administer the estate and is filed with the court for a probate application. Occasionally, only a copy can be found and the original cannot be located. It is possible to rely on a copy and complete the administration of the estate, but it creates some additional steps and challenges and slows the overall process down.
So, your will is done. What now? Where do you store it and how do you keep it safe?
So, your will is complete. What now? Where do you store it to keep it safe?
At home in a safe place
If you decide to keep the original will at home, choose a secure and ideally fireproof location, such as a locked filing cabinet or a dedicated fireproof box. Let your executor know where the will can be found and how to access it. This option, however, does come with some associated risks, such as damage from accidents or natural disasters, so it's important to weigh the pros and cons carefully. In our experience, this is the most common option that people choose.
With your executor
BC Vital Statistics Agency's Wills Registry
Safety Deposit Box
With your lawyer
The location where you store your will is a decision not to be taken lightly. Proper storage and accessibility are key to ensuring that your will serves its intended purpose when the time comes. Whichever option you go with, ensure that your executor and loved ones are aware of the will's location, and you should review and update your will as needed to reflect any changes in your wishes or circumstances.
Want to learn more about when to consider making changes to your will? We have a free resource on that very topic, found right here.