How to find a lost Will – many fail to take proper precautions.
(see also how to find a copy of a Will which has been through Probate).
This page is a guest page written by the folk at Will Custodian Ltd who specialise in making sure your Last Will and Testament and other legal planning doesn’t get lost, and that you are kept up to date on changes in tax, the law and family circumstances. Without that knowledge, you might not realise you need advice, which is part of the package they offer for a couple of pounds or so a month.
Will Custodians Guide: How to find a lost Will:
- Where the Will is lost, it may be possible to use a copy to obtain probate, but only if it is provable that the Will was current and had not been deliberately destroyed. Not easy, but the person who wrote the Last Will will normally have a copy, if you can find them.
Where to Find a Lost Will
Do bear in mind that it is a signed and witnessed original copy of the Last Will and testament you need to find, or the chances are that the estate will have to be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy. Most people store these crucial documents at home, so a meticulous search of all paperwork is needed.
Where the precaution of safe storage has been taken up, most providers just send a one page letter confirming receipt and you’ll never hear from them again. So if that letter is lost…… Under the Will Custodian system, there is a copy will for the person whose Will it is, plus laminated A4 storage certificates (hard to lose!) for them AND their executors. On top of that there is a gold card and an annual newsletter and checklist sent out. So if we are storing it, you will know and you won’t be reading this page. Is your Legal Planning secure?
Look at the bank statements to see if anyone is being paid for storage, and check with the bank/s to see if there is a safe deposit box.
Some people keep Wills at home in home safes, but these do get very hot inside if there is a fire, so there is a danger that the Will could be incinerated,
Who to ask about a lost Will
We’ve tried to put this in some sort of logical order:
- Is there a regular solicitor or Will Writer they were in touch with? Look for letters or business cards. Their financial adviser may know.
- Ask the Secretary of the Local Law Society if they would kingly email their members – they will need full name, date of birth and addresses the person has lived at – plus any other names they may be known by (find the birth certificate – people often don’t use their legal names.)
- The Principal Probate Registry stores some Wills: enquiries 020 7947 7022. Address: Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 7th Floor, 42-49 High Holborn, Holborn. London WC1V 6NP.
- The Society of Will Writers stores a large number of Wills for current and past members as well as for solicitors etc who have gone out of business, ask for the Custody Department (best to use their email enquiry form). If you ask, they will often circulate members in the relevant region.
- The Solicitors Regulation Authority store tens of thousands of Last Wills etc where the solicitor has gone out of business. We are told that they are very behind with cataloguing, sadly.
- There are a number of initiatives trying to pull together storage data, but they are all operated on a commercial basis, so they will cost you money – we’ve listed some below but recommend trying the free ones first. They are not in any particular order.
and probably lots more – please let us know of any significant ones and we will add it to Will Custodians article.