Probate Questions: A friend promised me a gift in her Will but…
Q: I’m not a relative of the lady, but was a good friend. She had no family and had promised to leave me her jewellery. She lived some 100 miles away and I have no idea of the Solicitor dealing with her estate. As I have heard nothing up to now. Am I to presume that she did not put this in her will, or could it be that the will has not been read/dealt with. How can I find out?
Apart from writing to every solicitor and Will Writer in the area, IF the will has been probated you will be able to get a copy of it via the Probate Registry. You can access them and buy copies at the Probate Search Room, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP (tel: 020 7947 7022). The same applies to letters of administration, which are granted if no valid will was made or found.
Alternatively, without relatives it may be that no obvious beneficiaries could be found and that the estate was declared “bona vacantia” or ownerless – which is where “heir hunters” own their crust by tracing beneficiaries. It might put your mind at rest, but without a Will being found there is almost no chance of you getting what you were promised I am afraid!
You can see the Treasury Solicitors Bona Vacantia site HERE
If there is a real dispute, this page on Probate Questions may be of assistance.