When a loved one dies, the executors and family members will search for the Will to see how the deceased wished to have their estate distributed – but what happens if only the copy Will is found and not the original?
The Importance Of The Original Will
Most people store their original Will in a safe place and keep a copy in their filing cabinet or equivalent.
Popular places to keep the original Will, include:
- At the office of the solicitor who drafted the Will
- At home
- In the bank
What Happened To The Original Will?
Problems can arise if the original Will can’t be found.
The family should not assume that the lack of a Will means that there isn’t one and the deceased didn’t write one or that they revoked their original Will.
Before reaching any conclusions, there are steps that can be taken to track down the Will:
- Contact the deceased’s solicitor to see if the original is stored there
- Contact other local law firms
- Use the probate search service on Gov.uk
- Place an advert in the Wills & Whereabouts section of the Law Society Gazette
- Pay a specialist search organisation to undertake further research
What Happens If No Will Is Found?
If no Will is found, either the original or copy Will, then the rules of intestacy will apply to the distribution of the deceased’s estate. Those rules dictate which family members will inherit, and will differ according to which family members survive the deceased.
What Happens If Only The Copy Will Is Found?
The challenge with finding a copy of the Will but not the original, is proving the lack of an original Will doesn’t mean the Will has been revoked – this is because the law assumes the Will has been revoked if it cannot be found.
However, if a Will is revoked this is normally because a new one is being made – rather than signalling that the person would prefer the rules of intestacy to apply instead of the provisions of their original Will.
The executors can submit a copy Will to probate with sufficient evidence to convince the Probate Registry to dismiss the law’s so-called presumption of revocation.
Usually, a copy Will is allowed if either the statements within it distribute the estate in the same way the rules of intestacy would, or the family members who would inherit under the intestacy rules are willing to enter into a deed of variation to agree to distribute the estate according to the copy Will.
Challenges arise if the details within the copy Will are different to how the rules of intestacy dictate the estate should be distributed.
Look After Your Original Will
It’s important to take good care of your original Will, to avoid causing complications for loved ones when you die, and they are unable to find your original Will.
The safest place for your Will is with your solicitor. This way, your executors can easily find it and it is kept safe from the risk of loss or destruction. On the rare occasion the solicitor loses the original Will, the fact it was stored at the law firm is sufficient evidence for stopping the presumption of revocation law and means that the copy Will should be accepted as legally valid.
Helping You To Safeguard Your Will
As well as helping to draft or amend your Will, our solicitors can help you ensure you look after your Will. We store original Wills for many clients, keeping them in a secure and safe place for when they are needed for probate.
This provides you with the peace of mind that your wishes for what happens to your estate and how it is shared amongst your loved ones when you die, are protected. Your executors will be able to find your Will easily, enabling them to distribute your estate exactly as you want it to be distributed. Make sure that you tell your executors where your Will is stored.
To speak to one of our professional solicitors about making or storing a Will, please contact us at our Chorlton office on 0161 860 7123 or email email@example.com or at our Failsworth office on 0161 681 4005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org