Review of Processes – What happens when final documents have been issued?

21st March 2024Manisha Chauhan0

In the previous article of our Review of Processes series, we gave some tips for issuing the final documents once the client has confirmed drafts.

In the next and final instalment of this series, we will examine what you can do as a will writer once you have issued the final documents to your client, assuming they have all been completed and signed correctly.

During the meeting with your client, you should discuss the storage of the documents once everything is complete. Essentially, there are two options:-

  • The client keeps their document(s); or
  • Documents are stored professionally
Client Storing the Documents

Your client may advise you that they wish to store the documents in their own home, typically in a cupboard, filing cabinet or folder so that they can be accessed easily on their death or in the case of LPAs, when they’re needed.

Of course, the clients are within their rights to do so, but as their Will Writer, you should advise them of the risks associated with storing their documents at home, such as:

  • Destruction by fire;
  • Destruction by flooding;
  • Malicious damage;
  • Loss/theft of the Will; or
  • Accidental damage.

If the client has been made aware of the risks and is still happy to keep their documents at home, you should ensure your notes reflect this.

Professional Storage

Professional storage is the preferred and safer option. You may offer this service yourself or with a dedicated storage company. You can discuss these options with your client and the benefits it offers, such as protection from loss or theft of their Will, and malicious damage. Another benefit is that clients can store other important documents, such as insurance paperwork and even deeds.

It is also easier for the executors to retrieve the Will and additional checks would be done before such documentation is released to them. For example, a Will would only be released to the executor upon receipt of a copy of the death certificate and only once the executor proves their identity.

Some storage providers provide even further services, such as the Society’s partner, The National Will Archive. They check the validity of Wills to ensure they comply with legal requirements, produce scanned copies and keep digital records any time a Will is withdrawn or deposited in storage, and provide ID cards for those authorised to access the Will. They also register all Wills entering their storage with The National Will Register for added certainty about the document’s existence and whereabouts.

File Administration

At the end of the matter, it is a good idea to ensure your documents are all up to date and backed up in any software you use or, if not, kept safely in your client file. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Signed terms of business;
  • Signed client care letter;
  • Emails;
  • Letters;
  • Telephone attendance notes;
  • Land registry documents;
  • Draft documents; and
  • Final documents

You can read an earlier article in this series about what the client file should contain for more information.

It can also be a good idea to schedule a reminder for when to contact the client for a review of their documents next. We advise that a Will should be reviewed every 3-5 years or sooner if there’s a material change in the client’s circumstances. Keeping in regular contact with your clients can help ensure that their documents remain fit for purpose.

Manisha Chauhan

Manisha joined the Society’s Technical Advice Team in July 2019 having previously worked as an Employment Solicitor in Warwickshire before relocating to Lincolnshire. Manisha provides advice on technical queries for Society Members and ongoing support on our professional drafting software, Sure Will Writer.

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