Where there is a Will – but can it be found?
12 April 2019 by Anastasia Packman
It may seem an obvious point to make but when a person makes a Will they should always tell the Executors; these are the people who ensure that the terms of the Will are carried out. You should also consider telling immediate family where it (the Will) is.
The vast majority of our clients leave their Wills with us; and unless they tell us there is a good reason not to, we supply clients with copies of their Wills. We strongly urge them to keep the copies at home; and our copies certainly always state where the originals are kept. A lot of people have a financial folder or metal box or briefcase where they keep their important documents. It is sensible to tell the Executors where this can be found.
Sometimes however Executors perhaps forget where the Clients have told them their documents are held, or perhaps the clients have moved the documents and not told anybody. The basic first step to take would be a thorough search of any residence of the Client. Wills have been known to be found in weird and wonderful places including airing cupboards and behind drawers in bedrooms.
We hold literally thousands of original Wills and do not unilaterally destroy them. One Executor was surprised recently to find that we still held a Will made nearly 60 years ago.
Once a Will is located, or if Executors or Family members have exhausted all avenues, then the Executors (or Family members depending on the circumstances) can begin to carry out their duties. We offer various levels of assistance to best suit the differing needs and wishes of Executors where there are Wills or Family members where there are not.
Copies of a Will
Sometimes only a copy of a Will can be located, but all is not necessarily lost as even a copy can be used. Although one question which is always asked is whether the deceased Client destroyed the original but forgot copies had been supplied.
If an original Will cannot be located immediately there is a National Wills Register, but this is far from complete and may not yield results.
What happens if a Will cannot be located?
Ultimately if a Will cannot be found the Estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy Rules. This basically states where a person’s assets should be allocated; and often Families are surprised at what the Rules say. So if a person wants to make a Will to avoid the Rules, it makes sense to inform people where the original Will can be found. At a time of distress Families will not want to have to hunt for a Will, which may have been intended to have been made but in fact, was not, and so a conversation between the Will Maker and Executors/Family members is always worthwhile.
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