Without a valid Will, an estate will be administered under the rules of intestacy; if the deceased intended certain people and organisations to benefit from their estate, these parties may not be eligible to receive wealth and assets if a Will cannot be found. So, it is vital that interested parties know how to find a Will.
There are many other potential reasons why a person might wish to obtain a copy of a Will, whether it is to contest it, to make a claim against an estate, to discover whether they are a beneficiary, or simply to discover its contents.
However, in the UK there is no central database of Wills, which means that it can be difficult to find the document unless the testator has told you where the Will is kept. Despite this, there are a number of ways a person can attempt to find a Will. Below we take a look at some of these.
The Probate Registry
The Probate Registry allows testators to store Wills at their storage facility for a single payment of £20. However, very few people take advantage of this service, with most preferring to leave their Wills with their probate solicitor of choice.
Grant of Probate search
If a Grant of Representation, or Grant of Letters of Administration, has already been issued, it may be possible to carry out an online search. This can be done for a fee of £10 and can be a good way to find a copy of a Will that has already received approval for probate.
The Law Society
Local branches of the Law Society may be able to search their storage facilities for copies of Wills. This is useful in finding a hard-to-come-by Will as you can narrow down your search to only those locations which you consider to be relevant.
The Society of Will Writers
With more than 1,200 members the Society of Will Writers is home to the most comprehensive database of will writers in the UK.
However, contacting this organisation or its members is no guarantee of finding a Will. Finding a Will is only likely to be straightforward in cases where the testator has made a conscious effort to ensure that his or her Will is traceable.
Friends, family and community
Sometimes there is no better way to find a Will than to speak with the friends, family and community of the testator. In many cases, the testator will have told relevant persons of the whereabouts of a Will, but it may not necessarily be the obvious people such as children or relatives.
If you have authority to search the testator's property, you need to be rigorous, yet careful in your searching; the Will could be anywhere and, potentially, may be lost amongst piles of seemingly unimportant paperwork.
Legal correspondence of the deceased
Oftentimes, the official legal and financial correspondence of the deceased will help lead you to the solicitors firm, or bank, where the will is stored. So look out for any paperwork from these types of institutions and check for references to Last Will and Testament documents.
It is possible to advertise to find a Will. Be sure to provide full details of the deceased, including former names, maiden names and previous addresses.
Find a solicitor who specialises in finding Wills
Oratto can put you in touch with a solicitor for Wills and probate who is suited to your personal circumstances - whether you require a simple Will, need help finding a Will or would like help with some aspect of probate.
Get in touch with Oratto today.