After you make your will, you might think it is automatically filed with the government. In fact, the will document itself is not filed anywhere. Rather, it remains private until the death of the will maker.
To keep track of wills in British Columbia, the provincial Vital Statistics Agency keeps a wills registry. When you prepare a will, you, your notary or legal representative files a wills notice that the agency keeps on record.
The wills notice does not include a copy of your will. As mentioned earlier, that document is private. It does, however, record the following information:
* Your full legal name and date of birth
* Name and contact information of your notary / legal representative
* Date you signed the will
* Location of your will
* Date you filed the wills notice with the agency
If you change your will after your wills notice has been filed, you can file a new notice that supersedes the previous one.
What Is a Wills Notice Search?
When you die, the probate process includes a wills notice search. Your executor will need to apply for a search of wills notice, and submit application form along with the application for probate.
If the will maker is alive, then only that person—or his or her notary or legal representative—can apply for a search of wills notice. However, when the will maker dies, anyone with a copy of the death certificate can do the search, which requires a small fee.
The form for the application for search of wills notice is available online. You can print it off and fill it in.
Why File a Wills Notice?
Because your wills notice includes your intended storage location, registering with the agency can help your executor find your will after you die. This is especially helpful if your executor doesn’t know where you left it. In addition to filing a wills notice, it’s a good idea to tell your executor where your will is, so they won’t have to hunt for it. Also, the wills notice includes contact information for your notary or legal representative, and they can obtain a legal copy of your will.
Please note that this is how it works in British Columbia. See BC’s Wills Registry. If you live in a different province, the process may differ.
If you have any questions about this article or wills notices in general, or if you want to make an appointment with Zancope Notary Public, please contact us at (604) 260-6783. Zancope Notary Public offers professional legal services and document notary services in Langley, BC.
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