“Are Wills private?” This is a question Simon and Linda Hall are often asked as people raise concerns about the confidentiality of their Estate Planning. Our clients also want to know who will store their Will and which people may have access to it. In this post Simon answers these three questions which we hope you will find helpful.
Is a Will a private document?
When you consider that a Will is really nobody else’s business except your own, it’s surprising that so many people google, “Are Wills private?” It’s one of the most popular search choices when it comes to Estate Planning. You may find the answer surprising though as this question is really about timing.
While you are alive, your Will is a private matter between you and your Will Writer and whoever else you choose to share it with including your Executor(s). Once you have passed away though, it is up to the discretion of your Executor(s) to determine who can see your Will. However, your Will does pass into the public domain when a Grant of Probate has been issued. At this point anyone can apply to receive a copy of it. So yes, initially Wills are private documents but they ultimately become a public record.
Where is a Will kept?
That is a matter of personal preference. You can keep your Will amongst your personal documents. Ideally it should be in secure place like a fireproof box or safe or you may wish to only keep a copy at home and give the original signed copy to your Will Writer or Solicitor for safekeeping. Many people choose to do this and we certainly offer this solution at Simon Hall Will Writing Services to provide complete peace of mind.
The benefit of storing your Will with us is that we will already be familiar with the narrative and can provide FREE probate advice and guidance as needed. However you store your Will, it’s important to tell your Executors how to access it.
Who has access to my Will?
You are the primary person to have access to your Will and you can change it at any time as long as it is signed and witnessed by two people. If you are part of a couple, then your spouse may be privy to the contents or not as per your wishes. While you are still alive you may want to disclose the contents of your Will to your heirs to some degree, although most people tend to keep their Wills private. This may lead to speculation amongst family members but in practical terms they will have to wait and see.
We can all recall dramatic scenes in films where the deceased’s family gather for the reading of the Will. However that doesn’t happen in real life and especially not these days. Beneficiaries are usually informed by the Executor via email along with a copy of your Will. This is always at the discretion of the Executor(s). Your heirs don’t actually have the right to see your Will.
The only legal requirement is for your beneficiaries to be informed who your Executor(s) are, and receive an indication of how long Probate may take. This means most people won’t be entitled to see your Will until a Grant of Probate has been issued and it is in the public domain. It is only then that people who want to see your Will, for whatever reason, can access the public record.
Inheritance is not always obvious these days, with some people choosing to exclude certain family members or opting to leave their Estate to a particular charity. At Simon Hall Will Writing Services, it is not our place to question your judgement. Of course, we can help you explore various scenarios, when requested, and discuss the implications of your decisions, however your Will must reflect your choices without coercion. Our role is to educate and inform our clients about what happens when you die and of course to ensure your wishes are correctly recorded to prevent any loopholes.
Trust Simon Hall with your Estate
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions section for further information about Wills. We also deal with Trusts, Guardianship and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs). We understand that all of these require a huge amount of trust. I am pleased to say that we have developed trusted relationships with many, many clients who rely on our professional advice and depend on us to ensure their Will is written and implemented exactly according to their wishes.
Our clients range from the most diligent forward planners to people who literally have days to live… My advice to you is to plan ahead for the sake of your family. See my post, Why you shouldn’t leave your Will to the last minute. However we are often called in to assist people in emergency situations. For example, helping Peter’s friend.
“I had to get a Will in place urgently for a friend who was in hospital,” Peter writes in a review of our service. “I phoned Simon on a Saturday morning expecting to get an answerphone but he answered personally. I explained the situation to him thinking he’d say, “I will see you on Monday morning”, however he replied that he would meet us at the hospital that afternoon.
“He took details from my friend in a quiet, calm, and sensitive manner. I was then expecting him to say he would have it ready the following week but on the Sunday morning he rang to arrange an appointment that afternoon for final instruction. Then we met on Monday for the Will to be signed. I have had many good services over the years but the service I received from Simon is one of, if not the best, I have ever received. Thank you Simon Hall Will Writing Services.”
Often we deal with clients in very sensitive situations. They are not just concerned with questions like ‘Are wills private’, they need reassurance concerning inaccurate advice they have been given. I was recently putting a Will together for a client with Stage 4 Cancer who was experiencing huge upset. They had been told by a funeral director that they needed a solicitor to draw up their Will which is incorrect. Fortunately I was able to put their mind at rest by giving them all the friendly, but professional advice they needed.
Anybody can have a DIY Will if they want. They can also go to the extra expense of using an accountant or lawyer. However that is unnecessary. It is far more cost effective to use a Will Writer and especially one who handles diverse Estate options on a daily basis. Linda and I have truly found our speciality in providing peace of mind to all our customers. This is what we have built our reputation on as a trusted Will Writing service over the years. That is certainly how we see ourselves and are delighted this has been confirmed time and time again through client reviews and the awards we have received.
Please contact us if we can be of service. Click on this link for ways to get in touch including via WhatsApp. You are also welcome to chat to us about any Estate-related matter on social media. Follow Simon and Linda on LinkedIn.