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Do wills have to be registered with a lawyer ?

Victor, IA |

I am asking for my sister who is under the impressinn all wills must be registered.

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Attorney answers 5


This use of the verb "to register" is imprecise; it is not a legal term of art and there is no "registry of wills." Some people believe, mistakenly, that a will should be recorded in the public records like a deed. In fact, maintaining privacy and confidentiality is preferred by most clients and commonly recommended by attorneys. Of course, what is done with a signed original will depends entirely on the objective(s) to be served.

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I'm not familiar with the laws of your state, but typically, wills do not need to be recorded, registered or filed in a public registry or with a court. Where you choose to store your executed original will is entirely up to you.

Some attorneys will offer to store the originals for safe-keeping. But again, that is up to the client.

Many people choose to keep their original estate planning documents either in their home or a safe deposit box. Just make sure your family knows where the originals are stored so that they can retrieve them when the time comes.

Hope this helps.

This answer is in response to a general legal question and is intended for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Use of this website and its e-mail link does not create an attorney-client relationship with Attorney Mekdsy. Messages with confidential information should not be sent to Attorney Mekdsy via the e-mail link. The information provided in this answer must not be used as a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Brian Mekdsy is licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts only.


Your sister's impression is not correct. As an attorney, I do not store or maintain original wills for my clients. I recommend that they be stored in the client's home or in a safe deposit box, so long as the client advises friends or family members of where to find the document(s) when needed.

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Unless your sister is an attorney then I would not be relying on her for legal advice.

As noted by the other attorneys, there is no will "registry" if the person who made the will is still alive. I live in NC and here, some counties will offer to store a will for later probate for a small fee. But that is up to the person who made the will and this policy may or may not be offered in the state where the person who made the will lives.

Some lawyers may offer to store a will for their client but most do not. The client can store the will in a fireproof safe or in a safe deposit box or some other secure location.

Once a person has died, the will must be filed with the probate court in the county/state where the person resided at the time of death.


No but wills need to follow the specific requirements laid out by state statute to be valid.

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