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Storage of Wills and Powers of Attorney

Why I No Longer Store Wills and Powers of Attorney

It was my practice when executing Powers of Attorney to create a duplicate set as a backup for my clients. However it has recently come to my attention that even though this second set of originals of the Powers of Attorney is only a duplicate set, the Law Society has advised they must be returned to my clients when I retire. I would like to stress I am not retiring anytime soon, but having been in practice since March of 1977, I have had the pleasure of serving many many clients. When I do retire, it will be a colossal task to return the second set of Powers of Attorney, and I have therefore started notifying my clients that they should now take possession of their documents.

In commencing this process I have also come to realize that I am holding on to the Wills and Powers of Attorney for many people who are now long deceased. In all likelihood, new Wills and Powers of Attorney were executed before they died. However, I should have been notified as a courtesy so I would no longer have to store those documents, but more importantly to ensure those Wills were taken out of circulation so there is never any confusion as to which is the last Will and Testament. Or, if they were still valid documents, this highlights the importance of ensuring Executors and Attorneys are made aware of their location.

Storing of Wills

As you can only have one original Will, it must be kept in a safe place. I suggest that a safety deposit box is the ideal location to store the original Will, and I recommend checking with your bank as to what they might offer with respect to safety deposit boxes. Only a small box is required, as a Will may be folded. Some banks will offer a free box if you maintain a certain bank balance, or will offer discounted fees if you are over a certain age.

Alternative storage locations would be a fire proof safe at home, or your refrigerator or freezer (though ensure your documents are in a sealed container to avoid any water damage). You may also store an original Will at the Ottawa Court House for a nominal fee of $25. To do so, you simply need to bring your original Will, photo identification, and the $25 fee to the Estates Office, at the Ottawa Court House, 161 Elgin Street. While you are there, you will need to complete a form provided at the Estates Office counter. (Please see my website for a sample form entitled “Depositing your Will at the Court House”). Storing of Powers of Attorney The process of storing Powers of Attorney differs greatly from Wills. Unlike Wills, the Powers of Attorney should not be kept in a safety deposit box because they cannot easily be accessed by an attorney. I advise that the Powers of Attorney should be kept in the client Will manual which I provide at the time of signing your Will and Powers.

Storing of Powers of Attorney

The process of storing Powers of Attorney differs greatly from Wills. Unlike Wills, the Powers of Attorney should not be kept in a safety deposit box because they cannot easily be accessed by an attorney. I advise that the Powers of Attorney should be kept in the client Will manual which I provide at the time of signing your Will and Powers.