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How do I find a lost Will?

1st June 2022 by Kate Mansfield

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A Will is crucial in making sure that an estate passes to the right people after someone dies. But sometimes it can be hard to locate a Will. We take a look at what to do when a Will can’t easily be found.

After a death, those who believe that they are the deceased’s executors will generally take on the job of trying to find the Will. It is recommended that after a Will is written it is stored securely somewhere, with a clear record kept of its whereabouts.

Look through the deceased’s property

The most obvious place to look is with the deceased’s paperwork or in their filing cabinets or home safe. Even if the Will is not there, you may find a clue as to its whereabouts, such as a letter from their solicitor or a receipt from a Wills storage facility.

Contact the deceased’s solicitor and bank

If you know which solicitor the deceased used, you can contact them. Solicitors often keep Wills for their clients in safe storage facilities and they will have good records showing exactly what they hold. Similarly, banks have stored Wills in the past for clients, so check with any bank that the deceased used.

Check with Wills records facilities

A number of registers of Wills exist. The best know is the National Will Register, a Will registration and search service. Over nine million Wills are recorded on its system.

Carry out a Wills search

There are also services available offering Wills searches which may be able to help, although their services may not extend much further than the above actions which you can take yourself.

What to do if a Will cannot be located

You will generally need to speak to a solicitor if a Will cannot be located. If a copy of the Will can be found, it may be possible to apply to the Probate Registry to prove this. The solicitor who prepared the Will will be able to provide records of their work on the Will by way of evidence.

A sworn statement will need to accompany the application explaining that the Will cannot be located together with any evidence showing that the deceased signed a Will. The process may be more complicated where someone who might otherwise be entitled to inherit is not included in the Will, so it is recommended to seek legal advice before proceeding.

Making sure your Will can be located when the time comes

To ensure that your own Will can be found without difficulty, you can register it with the National Wills Register and store the document securely somewhere obvious. If you use a solicitor, they will provide you with a receipt that can be placed with your important documents. The National Wills Register will also note the location of your Will. You should make sure that you update the Register if you make a new Will or move the location of your existing Will.

If you would like any further information regarding Wills please contact Kate Mansfield or a member of our team on 01202 377800.

Kate Mansfield

Partner — Private Client

Direct dial: 01202 377853

Email

kate mansfield
  • “We have had the pleasure of Kate’s sensitive and unwavering professional support for a number of years. She has always been able to combine her deep expertise, with practical context and a tone of voice that gently escorts you through, often difficult decisions. We could not recommend Kate highly enough, both professionally and personally.”

    Simon Bennett

  • “Kate was extremely knowledgeable, straightforward to deal with as well as sympathetic during what was a difficult time. I felt in good hands!”

    Elisabeth Bonelli

  • “We were treated with respect and felt our wishes were taken in consideration. The patience shown in helping us understand the implications of decisions was outstanding.”

    Francesca Remix

  • “Very efficient and welcoming. Understood my access requirements and my unique concerns thoroughly.”

    Hannah Fielding (wheelchair user)

  • “Mrs Mansfield has been exemplary in every respect. She is an excellent listener and has the ability to explain complex issues patiently and emphatically. We are fortunate in having her as our legal adviser.”

    Neville Osrin

  • “Professional, always available for a phone enquiry. Always informed me as thing's progressed. Excellent company with very pleasant and helpful front of house. My sincere thanks.”

    Susan Dawn Godfrey

  • “Kate took the trouble to understand the particularities affecting my Will and found sensible ways of dealing with them.”

    Peter Andrews

Kate is head of our Private Client Team and has 25 years’ experience in private client work, specialising in wills, tax planning and estate administration. Kate has worked in this area since she qualified and has assisted thousands of families and individuals.

Kate qualified as a solicitor in 1995 after obtaining a 2.1 in Law from the University of Kent. She completed her training contract with Laceys and became a partner in 2002.

Kate is a full member of the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners (STEP) and sat on the STEP committee for 6 years. She has also taught on the Legal Executives course at Bournemouth & Poole College.

Kate enjoys the personal side of the work and the satisfaction of assisting the bereaved and families with complex affairs, whether it be complex financial aspects or those where a diplomatic hand is required. She prides herself on being able to explain the legal position in plain English.

Out of the office she enjoys keeping fit. She enjoys going to the gym and getting out into the Dorset countryside on her road bike. Cooking, particularly baking, is also a passion.

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