Where Should I Store my Will?

OK, so you signed a will at the lawyer’s office. Now what do you do with it?

This is not a complicated question. When you die, your executor (estate trustee) has to know where to find your will. You can keep it in your home. It should be kept separate, so it doesn’t get mixed in with other, less important paperwork, which we are swamped with these days. You should tell your executor where it is, and repeat it to them from time to time, so they don’t forget. One of my clients would do that each time she went on a trip. She would remind her son of the drawer where she kept her will, powers of attorney, prepaid funeral instructions etc. Then she would tell him that she loved him, which she did every day when they talked.

You can keep it in a safety deposit box. If you do this, authorize your executor's access to the box at the bank and tell the executor where to find the key. Usually safety deposit boxes are small, offering just enough space for your will and maybe powers of attorney. There will be some other estate related documents that you will want your executor (estate trustee) to find. You will have to keep these outside of your safety deposit box because they won’t be able to fit. So you still have to have a safe, separate place in your house where you should keep your estate documents. Here is an example of how this would work:

Mr. Richardson lives alone. His executor is his brother. He has a drawer in his home that contains all documents that his executor would need: bank address and account information; deed to his condominium; mortgage information; life insurance information; notes containing the number of his parking spot in the building; various keys including those to his condominium, car, mail box, locker room, etc. It also has a clearly labelled key to the safety deposit box. He tells his brother Mathew that his will is in the safety deposit box. He also shows him his special drawer with various documents which he would need after his death. This drawer has one original power of attorney for property naming his brother as attorney. Mathew will use this to get access to the safety deposit box.