Do I need to file my Will with the Register Of Wills?

No, you are not required to file your Last Will and Testamentwith the Register Of Wills.  You may howeverdeliver your Will to the Register of Wills for safekeeping. Every Register has a safe in their offices into which original Wills may be placed.  Currently the cost to deposit a Will is $5.00. This fee is much less than what it would cost you to obtain a safe deposit box at a bank or credit union.  Another advantage of depositing your Will with the Register Of Wills is that it will not get lost or disappear, as sometimes happens.  In fact the first place that is checked to uncover a Will in the event of a person’s death is the Register Of Wills’ office in the county where the decedent resided at the time of their death. Any Will deposited with the Register Of Wills will remain in a sealed envelop and will not be available for public disclosure during a person’slifetime, as the envelop will only be opened by the Register of Wills when they are presented with a Certified Death Certificate evidencing the death of the testatoror testatrix.

Although there are a number of good reasons for depositing your Will with the Register of Wills there are some disadvantages in doing so. For example, if you would like tokeep all of your important legal documents in one place (e.g. your Power Of Attorney, Living Will, Deed, etc), you will not be able to deposit these documents with the Register as they only accept Wills for safekeeping. You would have to locate another secure location to store these other documents. Also, it may pose an inconvenience to you, for the reason that whenever you revise or replace your Will, you should retrieve your prior Will from the Register Of Wills, which necessitates a trip to their offices.

It is important to note however, that although individuals are not required to file their Wills with the Register Of Wills during their lifetime, upon their death, any person who has custody of their original Will at the time of their death is required by Maryland law to deliver that Will to the Register of Wills office in the County where the decedent resided at the time of their death.

Published in the Spring, 2012 issue of Outlook By The Bay magazine.