What occurs if a will is misplaced?

A will becomes effective upon death, as we all know, thus it’s necessary to store it safely for eventual use. Some people may decide to keep their wills in the care of the person who wrote them, a lawyer, their bank, or a specialised storage facility like Nationwide Will Storage. Others might simply decide to keep their will at home.

But in rare situations, a will might not be discovered, leaving you to ponder what would happen or what to do in that situation.

In the absence of a will, what should you do?

First and foremost, it’s crucial that the executor and personal representatives look extensively for the original Will. Examples comprise:

  • Check with local professional will writers and solicitors to see if they were instructed and currently have the Will.
  • Speak to family and friends.
  • Post an advert in the Law Society Gazette.
  • Speak with a search company.

What if a copy of the Will has been discovered but not the original?

In some cases, a family member may discover a copy of the deceased person’s will in their residence but not the actual original. The question of whether the original Will has been revoked then arises, and determining the answer would require tracking the Will’s history.

Unless there is proof to the contrary, it would be questioned whether the will was destroyed after it was last known to be in the testator’s possession. If such proof is lacking, a copy of the will cannot be admitted to probate, and the estate will be distributed in line with the intestacy rules.

According to Rule 54 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987, if the original Will is still untraceable and cannot be discovered, the executors may try to prove a duplicate of the Will in place of the lost original. This would entail applying to the probate registrar for permission to prove the copy Will, and providing a written statement of the steps taken by the executors to locate the will, information about anyone who would benefit from the estate in the event that the copy Will is not proven, and a statement explaining why it is believed that the Will has not been destroyed with the intention of revoking it. By doing this, the assumption that a Will has been revoked if it is lacking is disproved at death and the last known to be in the testator’s possession.

It would also be necessary to list the people who would suffer more if the copied Will was established. In some cases, the Probate Registrar may also request a supplemental affidavit of due execution from the witnesses, attesting to the validity of the original Will’s signature.

You should let your personal representatives and executors know where your will is kept, make a note of the location so that it can be found easily, or, better yet, have your will professionally stored to avoid putting them in this predicament. Although some professionals and businesses may charge a fee for storage, it is more crucial that your records are maintained and secure.

3C Legal Limited works closely with the Nationwide Secure Document Archives, a company that specialises in storing wills and important personal documents such as Deeds/Trust documents and such.

There is a small annual fee of £20 plus VAT.

Should you require assistance please email donna@3clegal.co.uk

If you would like any further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us:
3C Legal Limited
Tel: +44 (0) 1684 212147
Mobile +44 (0) 7707 644738