Is it Best to Put a Will in a Storage Unit?
- Only an original, properly signed will, carries legal weight, it must be protected.
- If a will is in the possession of the person making it, and is lost, it is assumed to be revoked.
- Storage so protects against wilful destruction and defacement of documents.
Only an original, signed will carries any legal weight. There is a physicality to the document to which we are unused and which seems at odds with modern technology. The risk of harm coming to this crucial, yet fragile item whose life may extend over decades, is significant. We strongly advocate the use of professional storage units as a cost-effective means of reducing risk.
The use of a storage facility protects the will against (non-exhaustively):
- Accidental destruction.
- Accidental loss.
- Wilful destruction.
Accidental destruction of a will
A will may be revoked on destruction, by the testator. If a will is in the possession of the deceased and is lost or destroyed, it is presumed to have been ripped up with the intention of revoking it.
Notwithstanding, innumerable factors may result in a document’s accidental destruction, for example: damp, fire, moving house, insect larvae, flooding, young children or pets. Such harm may go unnoticed in the years separating creation and application.
Where a will is accidentally destroyed, it is up to those seeking to benefit to show that its destruction was the result of an accident, and that there was no intent to revoke. This is difficult and potentially impossible.
By keeping the will in a professional storage unit, the testator protects themselves from accidental destruction in three ways.
Firstly, the will is stored in fire and water proof materials, physically reducing the risk of accidental destruction. Secondly, professional storage units retain digital copies of documents and records of clients’ access thereto. Thus, they are able to demonstrate that documents were not in the possession of clients at time of destruction, supporting the case for the use of copies. Thirdly, in the unlikely event that the will cannot be enforced, such entities carry insurance (usually several million pounds), to compensate harmed parties.
Accidental loss of a will
Will are regularly lost and assumed revoked. They are lost in house moves, clear outs and simply as a consequence of disorder’s tendency to increase over time. Even if all documentation relating to the will’s storage, and all those present at the making of the will are lost central databases, of documents held in storage facilities, can be searched during probate to locate the document.
Defacement of the will
A mutilated will may be deemed revoked. Various degrees of ‘scribbling’ or ‘striking out’ have been found to revoke or not to revoke elements of the will. If a young child finds the document or even a mischievous party who stands to gain, chaos may be wrought! Conversely, well-meaning folk, seeking to organise matters may attach an associated document like a deed or letter to the will. Many are surprised to learn that even this may be catastrophic and lead to revocation. Retention away from the home vastly reduces the risk of such interference.
Wilful disposition of the will
On death, many may gather at the house of the deceased. It is not unheard of for parties who stand to benefit from intestacy or a previous document, to seek out a will and destroy it. A key protective function of professional storage units is their restriction of those who’ve access to documents.
The above is not exhaustive. We hold that the use of professional storage units is in the interests of all concerned.
If you’d like to discuss any of the matters raised above, please contact Confidence Wills. You can book a free consultation at www.confidencewills.co.uk.