What To Do With Your Will After It’s Signed?

By Nicholas Marouchak

16 November 2020 - 3 min read

what to do with your will after its signed

Where should I keep my Will?

Once your Will has been signed and witnessed, it’s important to keep in it a safe place.

There is no legal requirement where you keep it, however, you should ensure it’s protected from fires, floods and being tampered with.

Here are some ideas where you might store your Will.

Your House or Storage

You can leave your Will in your home, perhaps in a safe or filing cabinet.

Many people may also decide to leave their Will with their solicitors or in a private storage facility.

A Will Bank

Another option that is provided by many State Trustees is a Will Bank. This is a secure vault or safe where wills are kept until they are required.

These are the details depending on where you live:

  • WA – Public Trustee Will Bank of Western Australia offers a free and secure place to store your Will.
  • NSW – The NSW Trustee and Guardian offer a paid service for storing Wills ($29 for a single document).
  • VIC – The Victorian Will Bank, operated by State Trustees Victoria, is a free and secure place to store your Will.
  • QLD – The Public Trustee of Queensland offers a free and secure place to store your Will.
  • NT – The Public Trustee of the Northern Territory Offers a free and secure place to store your Will.
  • ACT – Wills may be deposited with the Registrar at the Supreme Court, and at the Public Trustee and Guardian.
  • SA &TAS– There is currently no Public Trustee service or facility where you may keep your Will.

What do to once it has been securely stored

Regardless of where you decide to keep your Will, it is important to make sure your executor knows where it is being kept and is able to access it when the time comes.

This does not mean that you should keep your Will with your executor.

For example, if you store your will in a filing cabinet at home, you don’t have to give your executor the key to it. Just let them know that your will is stored there. When you pass away, your executor can engage a locksmith to open the filing cabinet.

Should I keep a copy of my Will?

It may be prudent to make a copy of your Will, as a backup if your original Will is lost or damaged.

However, when making a copy, ensure that you do not remove any staples or other binding from the original Will, as the Court may think you were trying to change your Will (meaning it might not be valid).

While there may be multiple copies of your Will, there must only be ONE original. It is important to keep copies to a minimum. Never sign more than one original Will.

We strongly recommend that you write the word “COPY” on each copy of the Will so there is no confusion as to whether it’s an original or not.

Just because you have copies of the Will, does not mean you should neglect the original.

The Courts need to view your original Will to give permission to your executor to access your assets and divided it as you intended. This is known as probate.

If your executor is unable to locate the original Will, it will be more costly and time-consuming to get permission from the Court based on a copy of a Will (but it can be done if the original cannot be located).

The lesson here is to make sure the executor has access to your original Will, and the copies only act as a backup if the original cannot be located.