A will can contain some very private information about a person, their families, and their assets. By nature, it’s a very sensitive document, which is why many people have reservations about leaving it in their homes and sharing it with their families.
To keep it private, some even go as far as keeping the will in places that are hard to find, but this poses a problem for the family when it’s time to execute it. Chances are, the family will not be able to access the will or worse, they won’t know there is one in the first place.
Generally, a will is a private document that is owned by and kept in possession by an owner. Only them, their family, and their lawyer knows about it. However, when it’s time to execute a will, it goes through the process of probate where the court oversees the appointment of the named executor, divides the assets to the beneficiaries, settles the deceased’s debts, etc.
Being a court document, the will needs to go through the public process of probate. When a will goes through probate, it’s possible for anything controversial written in a will to go public.
Places to Keep a Will for Privacy
Where a will is kept is extremely important to ensure that the family will find it and execute the last wishes of the deceased. People who want to keep their will private during life can look at these places for storage.
1. In court
If a person wants their will to be private, they can file it with the court for safekeeping. However, this strategy is becoming less common because of the rise of privacy laws. Privacy laws make it challenging to get a hold of that will in the court’s possession after the owner’s death
2. Fire Safe
Fire safes are the best option when it comes to storing a will. It keeps the document private and hidden, but at the same time can be easily accessed by the family when the time comes. If they don’t have a code, there are services that can be engaged to open the fire safe.
3. Drawer of important documents
It’s good practice to keep all important documents in one place. That way, the family will know where to look for the will, estate planning documents, and other important files. As much as possible, bank sheets, insurance documents, a will, etc. should all be in one drawer.
4. Safe deposit boxes
Safe deposit boxes are the least ideal because it’s difficult to access. There are limited opportunities for a person to include a backup signer, who will be able to access the safe deposit box after death. And without a signer, the beneficiaries need to go through probate to open and access the will.
A will is a private document during the life of the owner. However, after death, the contents of it can become public during probate. If a person’s priority is to keep the will private or they want to avoid the probate process altogether, they can opt for other estate plans such as a revocable trust.