One of the first things which needs to be done when a loved one has died is finding the Will
It’s vitally important that any Will is found. A Will states how the deceased’s estate is to be distributed to which beneficiaries. But if the latest Will cannot be found then it is likely that either a pre-existing Will could be used, or if there was no Will, the person would be considered to have died as what’s known as ‘intestate’.
Intestacy means that, if a Will isn’t available stating how they wanted their estate distributed, then the law decides who inherits what in the family.
This can be very different from what the deceased, and probably the family might have expected. Unfortunately, intestacy is law and cannot be changed – what the deceased owned will be distributed according to that law.
The problem of finding the Will is well known – it’s suggested that amazingly 40% of all Wills cannot be found when the person has died.
Ideally, the executors will have been told where the Will is. Sometimes the executors themselves have the Will. But if not, most people who have a Will store it in a safe place.
It’s worth looking through all the usual places – where the person kept their important documents and papers, or perhaps in a separate file with other legal papers.
Sometimes, Wills are stored with a solicitor or reputable Will writing company. There may be evidence amongst the deceased papers of a ‘Will storage certificate’. This should show where the Will is currently stored.
What if you can’t find the Will?
This can be a difficult and stressful situation. Figuring out how the estate will be distributed and to whom hangs on finding the Will.
Unlike some countries such as Spain, there is no legal requirement to have your Will stored centrally by Government. However, there is a voluntary central Will Registry. You could try clicking here to see if the Will has been stored there.
So, if at this stage the Will hasn’t been found it relies on the Executors ringing around the private Will and document storage companies.
Phoenix Wills & Probate can help you locate a missing Will. For £25, we will search all known Will registries and attempt to identify the location of the Will. We will pass on the latest known whereabouts those who we can identify as executors to the Will.
If we don’t find the Will then we will refund £10 of the fee, and provide a list of the organisations we have contacted.
If the executors ask us to administer the estate, then the £25 fee will be waived.