Don’t Store your Will at Home!

There are three ways to revoke a Will:

1. Do a new one;
2. Draw up a Declaration of Revocation; or
3. Destroy your Will with intent to revoke it.

Item No. 3 above presents problems for people who store their original Wills at home. The problem with storing your Will at home is that the Will is in your posession. This is the key ingredient for a legal principle known as the Presumption of Destruction: if the Will was last known to be in the posession of the Will Maker and it cannot be found, it is presumed that the reason it cannot be found is because the Will Maker destoyed it, with intent to revoke it!

In other words, if you misplace your Will, the Judge will presume that you are not simply an absent-minded hoarder, but rather a disgruntled procrastinator who destroyed his or her own Will, but never got around to doing a new one!

If that happens, the Will Maker’s estate will not be distributed in accordance with his or her wishes, but rather as directed by the government’s intestacy rules!

The fact that a photocopy of the Will is available will not help. If the original Will is presumed to have been revoked, the copy is worthless!

If the original Will is not in your posession and later gets lost (for example, the bank loses it), the presumption will not operate and a photocopy of the Will can be probated.

For this reason, you should always store your Will in a Safety Deposit Box situated either at a financial institution or private safekeeping facility.

Important documents get lost all the time. It is a fact of life. In most cases, those documents can be replaced. Not so with Wills! Typically, the absence of this important document is only discovered after the Will Maker’s death, at which time it is too late to do anything about it because – the Will Maker is dead!

Don’t let the distribution of the fruits of your life’s work be left to chance. Spend a little bit of money and store your Will in a Safety Deposit Box!

Posted in Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Wills.