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In-law Suites: What Are They and What You Need to Know

Your Wills and related estate planning documents should be stored in a secure fire-proof location. It used to be common practice for lawyers to store wills for their clients in their vaults. If the Executor of your Will is a Trust Company they will usually offer to store your documents in their vault.

More commonly today, lawyers will provide the original documents to clients to store themselves. The lawyer will keep a paper and/or electronic copy in your permanent file, in case the originals are ever lost or destroyed. It is recommended that you store your documents in a secure location such as a safety deposit box at your bank or fire-proof safe in your home. Your freezer is not recommended as it is possible your freezer could defrost in a power outage, destroying your documents. If your Wills are in a safety deposit box you may provide an extra key to the box to your Executor or at least provide them a copy of your Wills. The Bank should allow them access when they produce a copy of your Wills.

Alberta does not currently have a formal Wills Registry, (unlike the Province of BC for example). I believe that a private entity tried to create a Wills Registry in Alberta, but it never got off the ground. Make sure that all relevant people know where you store your documents, and it is usually a good idea to provide copies to your Executors.

Wherever you store your documents we recommend you also include a detailed inventory of your assets so that your Executor can easily locate all property. Also, include a list of contact information of all the people and institutions mentioned in your documents. Update these lists often as circumstances change.

If your Wills are ever lost or destroyed, all is not lost:

Surrogate Rules

Lost will

24 If an original will is lost or destroyed but a copy or other evidence of it exists, the court may admit the copy or other evidence to probate if

(a) the will is proved formally under Division 3 of Part 2, or
(b) in the opinion of the court, the will can be adequately identified under this Part.

Please contact us at 403-265-3010 if you have any questions about Wills and estate planning.