Retrieving Wills or Powers of Attorney
Clients should notify their Estate Trustee(s) of their original Will’s location. It is also my practice unless instructed otherwise, to write the Estate Trustee(s) at the time the Will is made to tell them where the original Will is stored.
I keep a digitalized copy of the Will for reference and send that digitalized copy to my clients. I also provide a “trued up” copy (unsigned photocopy for reference purposes only) of the Will in the clients’ Will Manual I provide to them.
If a client dies and the Estate Trustee(s) requests the original Will from my office the Will can only be given to the Estate Trustee(s) upon being provided the death certificate of the client, and proof of identity of the Estate Trustee(s).
If the original Will is being stored in a safety deposit box at a bank, the Estate Trustee(s) must attend at the bank with the Death Certificate of the deceased, and proof of identity of the Estate Trustee(s). With this proof the bank must open the safety deposit box for the Estate Trustee(s) and provide the Will. The bank must also list what is in the safety deposit box though the bank is required to provide the contents of the box at this time. Once probate is obtained (or an agreement reached with the bank when probate is not required), the contents can be given to the Estate Trustee(s). The client should leave instructions on the location of their safety deposit box key (this can be done in their Will manual). If the key cannot be found it can take time and money to drill open the safety deposit box.
Powers of Attorney
Retrieving Powers of Attorney differs greatly from that of 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 Attorneys must bring the original document to my office to be notarized. If it is the attorney requesting the notarial copy (or duplicate original if I have it) I need authorization from the donor to release the document, or a letter from a doctor saying the donor is no longer competent.