Where should you store your original Will?
Glad you asked. One option (we’re not opining that it is the best) is to deposit it with the county clerk for your county of residence.
To do that – put the Will in a sealed wrapper that is endorsed with “Will of” followed by your name, address and signature, and the name and current address of each person who should be notified about the deposit after your death. Give the clerk the sealed Will with a $5 fee. The clerk may ask for some type of proof of your identity.
The clerk then gives you a certificate of deposit for the Will. The clerk should number the deposited Wills in a consecutive order, and the number for your Will should appear on your certificate of deposit.
Once it is deposited, during your lifetime the clerk can only release the Will back to you, or to another person authorized by you by a sworn written order. When the Will is delivered back to you or the authorized person, the clerk is supposed to collect the original certificate of deposit. If you don’t have the original certificate of deposit, then you can sign an affidavit stating it has been lost, stolen or destroyed.
What happens after you die? If the clerk receives an affidavit stating that you have died, or other proof of your death, then the clerk sends a registered letter to each person you had identified on the outside wrapper. The clerk is authorized to deliver the Will to any of those persons. If the notices are returned as undelivered, or you didn’t identify anyone on the outside wrapper, then the Clerk can open the Will and notify the person you named as Executor.
Let’s flip it a bit – suppose you have custody of someone’s Will, and that person dies? You have a duty to deliver the Will to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction over that person’s estate. That doesn’t mean the Will has to go through a probate process; it is intended to ensure that you won’t wrongfully plot to suppress the person’s Will just because you don’t like something in it.
Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.