Swindon Wills and Probate specialist, Joanna Turchet, explains the steps to take to locate a Will when someone dies.
Joanna is available on 01793 615011, or by email. Alternatively, complete the Contact Form at the foot of this page.
Finding a Will after somebody has died may not be straightforward. It may simply be the case that they never made one.
Check the house
Many people, particularly as they get older, keep important documents together somewhere that’s easy to find. If the deceased lived alone and you had a close connection with them, it may be appropriate for you to check their home. However, to avoid any later suggestion that you have acted inappropriately, never do this alone. Even if you cannot find an original Will, you may find a copy sent by their solicitor or other evidence of where to find the original.
Solicitors and banks
If the deceased had a Will written professionally, there’s a very good chance that the original copy was retained for safekeeping by their solicitor or perhaps by their bank. If you know which solicitors’ practice they used and who they banked with, make enquiries.
If the solicitor is no longer in business, you should contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority which will have a record of the firm that took over the solicitor’s practice and who are therefore likely to hold any Will.
If that’s still drawn a blank, you should not assume there’s no Will. Some further investigation is appropriate.
Phone around solicitors in the deceased’s locality and ask if they hold a Will for that individual. Understandably, solicitors have a strict duty of confidentiality, but they should take your details and check whether they hold a Will. If they do, and you have entitlement, they will contact you and ask for identification and a copy of the Death Certificate. Remember, only the named executors are entitled to the original Will.
If the deceased had an accountant or financial advisor, they might know, or have an indication of which solicitor the deceased used.
National Will Register
Search the National Will Register. Although they charge a fee for a search, there are now more than 9.4 million Wills registered in the National Will Register system. They do not disclose the existence of a Will, instead providing the searcher’s details to the firm that registered the Will. This allows the firm to verify the searcher’s entitlement and authenticity.
Search at the Principal Probate Registry. Although it’s uncommon, the deceased may have paid a fee to store their Will with the Probate Registry.