How do I find a lost Will?
1st June 2022 by Kate Mansfield
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.