Retrieving Wills or Powers of Attorney
Regardless of where a Will is stored, the client should notify their Estate Trustees as to the Will’s location. If my client wishes I will also write the Estate Trustees to advise them where the original Will is stored.
I will always have a digitalized copy of the Will for reference. I will also send a digitalized copy to my clients, and also provide a “trued up” copy of the Will in the clients’ Will Manual.
If the original Will is being stored in a safety deposit box at a bank, the Estate Trustees must attend at the bank with the Death Certificate of the deceased, and proof of identity of the Estate Trustees. With this proof the bank must open the safety deposit box for the Estate Trustees and provide the Will. The bank must also list what is in the safety deposit box. Once probate is obtained the contents can be given to the Estate Trustees. The client should leave instructions as to the location of their safety deposit box key. If they do not, it can take time and money to drill open the safety deposit box.
If a client has passed away and the Estate Trustees requests the original Will from my office (provided that I have not already returned the original Will to my client), the Will will be provided upon proof of death of the client, and proof of identity of the Estate Trustee.
Powers of Attorney
The process of safekeeping and retrieving Powers of Attorney differs greatly from Wills.
If the donor or attorney requests notarial copies of the Powers of Attorney I charge a fee as set out in my fee schedule for making notarial copies. The client or the Executors/Attorneys must bring the original document to my office to be notarized.
Unlike Wills, the Powers of Attorney should not be kept in a safety deposit box because they cannot be accessed by the attorney. Essentially, having the Powers of Attorney is the proof that the attorney has the authority to access the safety deposit box. If the Powers of Attorney are in the safety deposit box, this poses a challenge. Powers of Attorney should be kept in the client Will manual or be given to the attorney.
If I still have an original set of Powers of Attorney in my possession, and the attorney requests the original Powers, I will require either a Direction from the donor of the Power of Attorney advising I have the authority to release the Powers, or a doctor’s letter stating the client is no longer competent.