Hide and seek

Imagine the situation – a close relative has recently died and although you remember them telling you that they had made a Will, it cannot be found amongst their papers. Where can you go for advice to try and trace their Will?

A good start is usually to contact solicitors local to the area where the deceased lived, and most banks have a document storage system which also may have been used. If a firm of solicitors has closed or moved on, the Law Society can often provide information as to where any documents stored were transferred. This can however be a time-consuming, frustrating and possibly costly exercise. If a Will cannot be traced and located, the estate of the deceased will need to be dealt with under the Intestacy Rules, which may not perhaps reflect what you believe their wishes were.

In order to deal with this type of problem, the National Will Register, was set up. Wills can be registered on their online database and their location can then be tracked and traced many years later, even if copies of Wills have been lost, misplaced or even forgotten about. As part of their services, Certainty also offers various search facilities to help trace Wills not registered with them. Registration with Certainty is not compulsory but is included within our Will services at Else for those who wish for it.

Even if you decide not to use the registration service, it is vitally important that you know the location of your Will and there is a way for your relatives to find it to avoid the dangers:Your beneficiaries may not receive their inheritance in accordance with your wishes.

  • Your Will may be found after your estate has been distributed.
  • An old Will may be discovered and deemed as your final wishes.
  • Family disputes can occur.
  • Your children and dependants may not be looked after in the way you have chosen.
  • It may be assumed that you never made a Will.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, or to arrange a free 30 minute review of your existing Wills, please feel free to contact Kathryn Caple on 01283 526230 or email kathryn.caple@elselaw.co.uk.

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