Recently I spoke to a client who wanted to draw up a new Will.

During our discussions I was asked about what would happen if he passed away and his family members were unable to return to my law firm. More particularly, he was worried about the effect on his Will should my law firm close down and he later passed away.

Upon further discussions I came to learn that it was a common belief among the general public that a Grant of Probate needed to be obtained from the same law firm that had drafted the Will.

This is incorrect.

Once you have signed your Will and paid your lawyer, the original Will now belongs to you. You can deal with your Will as you wish.

Should you wish to change your Will, you do not need to return to the original law firm that drafted your Will (although many people may wish to do so as amending a Will is usually cheaper than starting a new Will from scratch).

In the same vein, if you pass away and a Grant of Probate is required, there is no obligation for your family members to return to the same law firm that drafted your original Will. Your family members are entitled to go to whichever law firm they feel comfortable with.

It is common for law firms to hold on to the original Will. However, the Will still belongs to you.

If you wish to collect an original Will from a law firm and take it home with you, or take it to a different lawyer, there would be no charge to you. The Will continues to belong to you, regardless of whoever is holding it.

Law firms do not usually charge for storing the original Will. The reason for this is simply because family members of deceased clients will ordinarily return to the law firm storing the original Will and give that law firm instructions to commence the process to obtain a Grant of Probate.

With many law firms charging between $1,500.00 and $2,500.00 for a simple Grant of Probate, this is good business for them.

Additional to this, law firms can often sell the original Wills to other law firms if they close down or relocate.

In summary, be aware of the following:

  1. Once you have paid for your Will it belongs to you;
  2. You do not need to go back to the same law firm that drafted your Will if you wish to amend your Will;
  3. Your family members do not need to return to the same law firm that drafted your Will to obtain a Grant of Probate, even if that law firm is holding your original Will; and
  4. Law firms should return an original Will with no charge upon receiving a request in writing from an eligible person.

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