It is essential to store your original will in a safe place and to tell someone close where it is – as losing it can have devastating consequences on the wishes of your estate creating havoc for many people.
We have met many clients over the years (usually children) who have been unable to locate a parent’s will leading to lengthy, stressful and sometimes costly consequences trying to locate it. In the worst case scenario (when a will cannot be located) the Supreme Court ends up stepping in and trying to determine who wished what and how. This is a costly exercise to say the least!
Unlike other States (and countries), New South Wales does not have an official registry for the safe keeping of wills and your will is valid from the moment it is signed, there is no need to register it. New South Wales used to have an official will registration service but abandoned it some years ago. As such, best practice has always been to make sure you keep your will in a safe place or in the hands of someone who can safeguard it for you such as a loved one of your Solicitor, Accountant or your Bank.
There are a number of private providers commonly known as will banks who offer to register and keep your will (we have seen prices varying from $20 – $50 per year) however they offer no real benefit apart from ensuring it doesn’t get lost, damaged or stolen. Not a bad service if you want peace of mind!
It is important to note that the NSW Trustee & Guardianship Board have a number of services that offer to safeguard documents on your behalf however beware of their ‘free’ service. Their fees often involve taking a percentage cut out of your entire estate so make sure you think about what 0.5% of your estate equates to just for keeping a document – the fee could be massive!
However, an added benefit of having your will kept on a register or with a safe keeping provider is that in the event that it does become lost or is in dispute, it is easier for your Executor or loved one to do a search and potentially find it. There is one slight problem though in that proof that it is the last will and testament can be problematic.
So, if you want to ensure you do not pass away intestate (without a will) and are the type to lose documents over time, there is nothing wrong with registering your will with a storage provider however watch out for any hidden fees.
Finally, we strongly recommend the best and safest way to protect your will is to ensure your Lawyer or Accountant has your most recent version and are aware of your wishes.
By Stephanie Maspero – Maspero Legal Consultant
Maspero Legal are a family business on the Northern Beaches with 27 + years of helping clients satisfy their legal needs across family law, estate planning and criminal law.
They know the most important person in the room (and court) is you and their easy, convenient and flexible services will help solve your legal ,problems effectively.
With legal services designed to work around your busy schedule – give them a call or email to discuss your matter in more detail.
Level 2, 7 Grosvenor Place, Brookvale
Phone: 8052 3322