A will is a legal instrument which sets out how your estate (including both your assets and liabilities) will be distributed upon your death. If you are considering whether or not you should make a will, please see our blog article “When Should You Make a Will?” http://touchstonelawgroup.com/kelowna-lawyers/make-will/.
If you have taken the step of preparing a will, do you know where it is? More importantly, if you were to pass away tomorrow, would you executor know where to find it? If your executor is unable to find your will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the standard “intestacy” scheme set out in the Wills, Estate and Succession Act which may not reflect your testamentary wishes.
When your will is prepared by a lawyer or notary, he or she will usually file a wills notice with the Vital Statistics Agency of British Columbia. A wills notice is a form which evidences that you have made a will and contains information such as your full legal name, date of birth, the date of your will and the location of your will. Following your death, your executor will be required to conduct a search in the wills registry administered by the Vital Statistics Agency. Although a wills search may be helpful in finding your will once you’re gone, it is not foolproof. The wills search shows the address where your will is located, but does not include additional information about the specific location.
Here are a few things to consider in deciding where to store your will (and other estate planning documents):
- Would your executor know where to look? For example, do you keep all of your important documents in one place in a certain room, filing cabinet or safety deposit box?
- Is there a key, code or authorization required to access the location of your will? If so, does your executor have what they need to access your will?
- If your will is kept with other documents, are you comfortable with your executor having access to such documents?
- If you keep your will at your personal residence, have you moved since you made your will? If so, have you filed an amended wills notice with the Vital Statistics Agency?
- Is the location of your will protected from theft, fire and floods?
In most cases, we recommend that our clients keep their originally signed wills (and other estate planning documents) in our safe located in our office and store a copy of their signed will at home. Our safe exceeds the Law Society’s requirements with respect to fire and flood resistance. We have strict policies and procedures in place to ensure that your will is protected and only released upon your request or upon the request of your executor once you have passed. We offer this service free of charge to clients who prepare their wills and other estate planning documents with us.
Whether you choose to store your will at home or in any other location, we recommend that you consider the above-noted items and your personal circumstances. Most importantly, we recommend that you communicate with your executor ahead of time to ensure that they know that you have named them as your executor and where, specifically, they can locate your will when it becomes time for them to act as your executor.
Please let us know if you have any questions regarding the above or your estate planning needs. We would be happy to discuss your will (or other estate planning documents) as well as any questions or concerns you may have.
Author: Danielle (Dani) Brito
This information is general in nature only. You should consult a lawyer before acting on any of this information. This information should not be considered as legal advice. To learn more about your legal needs, please contact our office at (250)448-2637 or any of our lawyers practicing in the area of estate planning and estate administration at the following:Jennette Vopicka: firstname.lastname@example.org Danielle (Dani) Brito: email@example.com