If someone dies, and have not left specifics about their Will, it may be tricky to recover it, but with a little perseverance, and an outline of the rules surrounding Wills may help to clarify matters. The only people who have a legal right to see the Will are the executors of the Will. These are the appointed persons charged with administering the estate as set out in the deceased's Will or by Court appointment.
Finding a Will can be tricky, many people keep one copy in their home and store the original with the Will writer who drew it up. But it is a fact of life that people lose important documents, or their Will writer or solicitor. A starting point is to contact Will writers and solicitors based near the deceased or to contact anyone with whom she might have dealt with. For example, if she used a solicitor for any other purpose, there may be a chance they have also left a Will with them. If someone contacted us at LWEP, we would be more than happy to confirm if we hold a deceased person’s Will, and provide it to executor's who provide suitable identification documents.
UK Will Registers
There is an online Will register service called Certainty which has been endorsed by the Law Society – where Wills can be registered so they can easily be found. It is also possible to store your Will with the Probate Registry for a small fee, so it is worth enquiring to find out if there is a record available. Once probate has been granted, in England or Wales, the Will becomes a public document. That means anyone can apply for a copy to the Probate Registry for a small fee. Most banks offer a Will storage service for a small charge, so it is also worth asking where the deceased had an account. (Please note putting a Will in a safe deposit box is not a good idea because you need a Grant of Probate to access the deposit box).
Probate Registry Requests
Where you believe you have are a beneficiary of a Will but are not a named executor, you should formally request a copy of the Will. However, if the person died recently, it is possible to apply for a "standing search" at the Probate Registry. This means where the person died within the last six months, and a grant may not have been issued, you can check the online search service to see if a grant has been issued. Once issued, you can order the documents. You can alternatively apply for a standing search which will request a copy of the grant to be sent to you when it issues. After six months, your standing search will expire, however, this can be extended for a further six months.
Where you cannot get access to a Will, and you are a close relative, who would benefit under intestacy law, you can request for the estate to be distributed under intestacy rules; this would then prompt the Executor to produce the existing Will. If you are in a situation where you think there may be a Will in existence for a close relative who has died but its existence is being concealed, and you have a strong case for being a beneficiary of the estate, you can apply for a Court Order for an inventory and account of the administration of the estate.
Contact our Wills Specialists Today
If you are looking to write a Will, or review an existing one, our friendly and knowledgeable advisers would be delighted to hear from you. We can arrange a consultation over the phone or in person, which can help us to build an accurate picture of your specific needs and requirements thus allowing us to advise you on every possible detail, and guide you smoothly through the entire estate planning process. Give us a call today on 0345 260 0600 or get in touch via our online contact form.