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Missing Will? Here’s What to Do...

In the unfortunate event of a Will going missing, there’s a practical set of steps to follow.

Typically, Wills are kept in safe places like a solicitor’s office, a bank, or with specialized firms such as The National Will Archive. Yet, some people keep their Will at home, which might lead to it being misplaced.

Finding a Lost Will

If you're responsible for sorting out someone's estate and their Will isn't turning up, it’s time for some serious searching. Start with:

  • Talking to relatives and close friends.

  • Checking with any local legal advisors, including Will writers or solicitors they may have used.

  • Placing a notice in the Law Society Gazette, as sometimes public appeals can jog memories or information.

  • Contacting organizations like The National Will Register, who are set up for exactly these situations.

Handling a Will Copy Without the Original

If you find a copy but not the original, you’re in a bit of a gray area. A copy might indicate that the original was intentionally destroyed (and thus the Will revoked), especially if it was last known to be with the deceased. This could mean the estate will have to be distributed according to standard legal rules, known as the laws of intestacy, unless you can prove the original Will's existence and validity.

Making a Case with a Will Copy

There's a provision for these kinds of problems. Executors can appeal to the court under Rule 54 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987, asking to use the copy. You’ll need to show you’ve done a thorough search and explain why you think the original wasn’t destroyed as a way to cancel the Will and identify the potential prejudice to those disadvantaged by the non-proving of the copy. Sometimes you might also need a statement from the people who witnessed the original signing.

Best Practices for Will Safekeeping

To avoid these scenarios, transparency about where you keep your Will is key. Consider professional storage options – they might cost a bit but can save a lot of trouble down the line. You can also register your Will with The National Will Register for an extra layer of security.

In Summary

The disappearance of a Will can be a complex and stressful situation, but with diligent searching and the right approach, it can be managed professionally.

Ensuring your Will is properly stored and communicating its location to your executor is crucial. For more on keeping your Will safe, call us.


Colin Barrett-Treen is a Director & Principal Estate Planner at Peritum Wills.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Taxation, Trust advice or Will writing.

Trusts are a highly complex area of financial planning.

Information provided and any opinions expressed are for general guidance only and not personal to your circumstances, nor are they intended to provide specific advice.

Tax laws are subject to change and taxation will vary depending on individual circumstances.

Ancojada wills Limited trading as Peritum Wills is not authorised or regulated to provide financial advice.

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