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/ 30 Nov 2022

Where should I store my Will?

Once you have finalised and signed your Will, the main question comes of where to store it safely as it is the original Will that needs to be proved for a Grant of Probate when you die. Our private client team provide an overview of the options available for storing your WIll, and what happens if someone dies and you cannot find their Will.

Claire Martin


Head of Private Client

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Whilst it is possible for a photocopy of a Will to be proved if the original cannot be found, you will need to provide evidence to the Probate Registry to their satisfaction that the original is simply lost and has not perhaps been destroyed by the Testator. There is a presumption that if it was last in the hands of the Testator it has been destroyed. Therefore, matters are made much easier if the original is readily available when you pass away. This helps to avoid delay and any additional costs when administering your estate.

No matter where you choose to store your Will, it is important that you make the executors of your Will aware of its location so that they can find it easily when you die.

Where should you store your will?

A person is free to store their Will however they wish. We have set out some of the options below.

At home:

  • This is the easiest and cheapest option and gives people peace of mind as they know exactly where their Will is being kept.
  • If you choose to keep your Will at home, you should ensure that it is stored in a safe place, preferably in a fireproof locked safe.
  • Storing at home can leave open the risk of accidental damage, mislaying the document or having it stolen if you do not have a fireproof safe.
  • The accidental destruction of a Will does not revoke it, however if you do not execute a new Will, a photocopy of your destroyed Will will then have to be proved which may be more costly and cause delays.

Storing your Will with Hanne & Co:

  • At Hanne & Co we offer the free storage of Wills, Letter of Wishes and LPAs for our clients.
  • All documents are safely stored in fireproof cupboards and are recorded on our Wills Registry.
  • We register all of our clients’ Wills free of charge on the National Wills Register. This database keeps record of a person’s Will and makes it easy for executors to locate your Will when you pass away.

Lodging your Will with the Probate Service:

  • In England and Wales, you can store your Will with the Probate Service for a fee of £20.00.
  • You can deposit the Will in person at your local district probate registry or send it via post with a completed form.
  • You can request the release of your Will free of charge during your lifetime or your executors can do so when you die.

What happens if someone dies, and I cannot find their Will?

Sometimes, a person may pass away without telling anyone where they stored their Will. The first port of call is to search for the Will everywhere it could possibly be. This may include searching their home, contacting their solicitors, the Probate Registry storage service, as well as their bank or any storage facilities they might have used.

Many companies exist that carry out Will searches for a fee. In addition, you can undertake a Certainty Will Search on the National Will Register website, again for a fee. The National Will Register also offer will searches for those who are alive but have lost capacity.

But what do you do if the person has died and all you can find is a copy of their Will or the Will is lost at some point before being sent to the Probate Registry?

Proving a Copy Will

When a Will cannot be found, it gives rise to the presumption that the Will was destroyed by the testator with the intention of revoking it.

If only a copy of the Will can be found it is necessary to apply to the Probate Registry to prove the copy Will so that Grant of Probate can be obtained. However, this is not a simple application and must be supported by a witness statement and substantive evidence that the Will was not in fact revoked.

The application must set out all available evidence to prove that the Will was still in existence and valid when the deceased passed away. It is important to note that the application needs to demonstrate when it was last seen, what steps have been taken to locate it, why it is believed the Testator did not destroy it in their lifetime intentionally and is therefore still valid.

How can Hanne & Co help?

At Hanne & Co, our Private Client department has a number of experienced solicitors who can prepare your Will and advise you on a variety of matters including inheritance tax planning, probate and trusts.

If you wish to contest a Will or make a claim against an estate if you feel you have not been fairly provided for, our solicitors can assist with contentious probate matters of any complexity.

Please contact us by email or by telephone on 020 7228 0017.

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