Whenever I complete a Will for a client, I file a notice with the provincial government. The Will itself isn’t filed, the notice is just to provide details of the place and date a Will was signed. The first reason why this matters is so that family have an idea of where to start looking to find a Will. The second reason is that if there is more than one Will out there, the rule of thumb is that the most recent Will is the valid one. It gives notice of which is the Will to be relied upon – barring, of course, disputes as to the validity of the later Will due to things like undue influence upon the person signing the Will, or a claim that the Will is not valid as the person signing it did not have the mental capacity to do so.
The government doesn’t keep copies of Wills. This is another reason why it’s important to keep a Will in a safe place — but not so safe that no one else will be able to find it! Many people use a filing cabinet or a fire proof safe in their homes to store their Wills. Some people use a safety deposit box, but sometimes that can have the problem in that the bank won’t let anyone other than the owner of the safety deposit box or their executor gain access to it. And without the Will, the executor can’t show that they have the legal right. This is also why I believe it is good practice to give clients the original Will along with a certified true copy of the Will for their records, so they can either keep one at home, separate from the one in the safety deposit box, or give one to their executor.