When a client executes a Last Will and Testament at my office, the question arises as to which party would like to keep the original last will and testament. Typically, the original will is either kept with the attorney in a secure location like a fire-proof safe or the person executing the will (testator) will keep the original.
I always advise clients that if they decide to keep the original will that they do so in a safe and secure location like the aforementioned safe. However, I also advise the client not leave the original will in a safe deposit box because it would take a special order of the Surrogate’s Court to direct the opening of the safe deposit box once the Testator has passed away.
In addition to having either the attorney or testator keep the will, the testator may direct that the original will be given to the person nominated as the executor, who often is a close family member. However, only 5% of all original wills are registered in New York Surrogate’s Court before the Testator is deceased. However, sometimes this act is done as a form of safekeeping because the Court can be a very good resource to maintain such an important original document. Once on file, the Surrogate’s Court will issue a receipt and open a file on the matter and will state that the original will is now on file with the Court.