What Happens When You Can’t Find a Will?

What Happens When You Can’t Find a Will?

Dealing with someone’s estate after death is not an easy job, but if you can’t find the person’s Will, it can be even more challenging. Some people may never have made a Will, in which case their estate would be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy. However, if you know they have made a Will and you just can’t find it, you may have to do some serious detective work to track it down.

Where to search for a lost Will

Lots of Wills go missing because they’re not stored securely enough, or the deceased has never told Executors or beneficiaries where the original document is located. So, where do you start?

  1. Look through the person’s home. Many people keep their original Will at home. Often, it gets shoved in a drawer, muddled up with other paperwork or even thrown out by accident. Go through any files, cabinets or drawers, the safe, under the mattress – anywhere they may have squirrelled it away. People can sometimes hide important documents in strange places, so be as thorough as you can.
  2. Ask people who knew them. If the deceased didn’t tell Executors where their Will was kept, it’s a good idea to ask around. Close friends and family may know something you don’t.
  3. Find out if they had a solicitor. If the person who has passed away used a solicitor to make their Will or for significant life events like moving house, they may have used the same law firm’s Will storage services. If not, it may also be worth contacting other local solicitors, and those in areas where the deceased has lived previously, to see if they hold the Will.
  4. Check with the bank. Some people make Wills through their banks or use the bank’s secure storage facilities to hold important documents, so try contacting institutions where they may hold accounts.
  5. Contact the Probate Registry. Wills can be registered with the Probate Registry for a fee, so it’s worth doing a Probate Registry search if your efforts have turned up nothing so far.
  6. Carry out a Will search. If you’re reached a dead end after all that, there are Will search companies who can help you track the original down but obviously, there is a charge for this.

If I can’t find the original Will, can I use a copy instead?

Executors need the original Will in order to apply for Probate. So, if the original has been lost or destroyed, things can get complicated. While it’s still possible to apply for Probate in the absence of the original Will, the person making the application has to provide a sworn affidavit. This must explain the circumstances surrounding the loss of the original Will, provide evidence of the validity of the copy, state facts that refute the presumption the Will has been revoked and detail any attempts that have been made to locate the original document.

Sometimes the beneficiaries under the copy Will may be different from the those who would inherit under the Rules of Intestacy, which can lead to disputes. Should the copy of the Will be rejected, the Rules of Intestacy apply, and the estate will be distributed accordingly. So, it’s always best to get the advice of a Probate professional if you find yourself having to prove a copy Will.

If you need help with to make a Probate application, ask our experienced Probate Extraction Specialists for advice.

Keeping your Will in a safe place

Of course, the best way to avoid all this hassle in the first place is to make sure the original Will is stored in a secure place and that Executors are informed of its whereabouts. A Will storage service is often the best way to protect paperwork and save everyone a lot of unnecessary stress. A dedicated Will storage facility gives you peace of mind that your paperwork is fully protected against loss, theft, fire and floods, and yet is easily accessible to Estate Administrators.

To find out more about Laurelo’s secure Will storage service, call us on 0203 058 2329 or email info@laurelo.co.uk.

This article is intended to provide information only and does not constitute legal advice. We do not accept any responsibility for any omission or loss as a result of this article.


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Patrick and Phillipa Vickery (Executor)

"When you lose a parent it’s an emotionally challenging time. Finding people to genuinely help with the mountain of subsequent issues is not easy. We dealt with Laurelo who took care of our Probate. Communicative and easy to talk to, Laurelo took away a bunch of stress and handled a complex estate excellently. I have no doubt that his experience has saved my family a significant tax burden."

C Hardman (Executor)

"Well informed, helpful and efficient throughout the whole probate journey. I was particularly impressed by the speed of response when I had questions"

V Garner (Executor)

"Thank you for dealing with the probate so efficiently. I would not hesitate to recommend your services in the future."

J Jackson (Executor)

"It has been my absolute pleasure to have met Michael and for him to act on my behalf, a wonderful, professional,  caring person whose services I would recommend to anyone."

Peter Nash/Paula Cranmer (Executors)

"I would recommend Laurelo to anyone who needs good and sensible advice about the probate process at a very reasonable price."

A Wilson (Executor)

"I wouldn't hesitate in recommending Laurelo in what, at the outset felt like a daunting task, but in reality once explained to us and the burden of completing the forms taken away and completed by a professional the process was seamless."

Lorri Turner Senior Manager (Herongate Wood)

“I have always found Michael at Laurelo to be engaging, honest and supportive of the customers needs. The offer of a home visit to see clients within their own familiar surroundings further supports this. I have no difficulty in recommending their services."

G Perrett Will Protect Ltd & Executor

“Michael's professionalism and knowledge of every aspect of probate is only matched by his sensitivity and patience. He instinctively knows what to say and when to say it and I am so grateful to him for helping me navigate the most difficult period of my life so far safe in the knowledge that I could simply "park" this part of the process and leave it with him to "sort out"."

K Whittle (Executor)

“They provided a professional and emphatic approach and took all the stress away from dealing with probate. Filing the forms very promptly and the whole process was dealt with in just over a month. I would highly recommend and I again thank them for their help."

Mr. A Browne (Executor)

The pricing point is good and in line with a few others, we found however for the service we received I do not think we could have put a price on it.

We would wholeheartedly recommend Michael and his team."

John F Smith (Executor)

“I was most satisfied with the service he provided, and his gentle and considerate manner was most comforting at a difficult time in my life."

Robert Evans (Executor)

“I just wanted to express my sincere thanks to Michael for the way in which he managed the probate arrangements at what was a very difficult time for myself and the family. Whilst always professional and efficient he was very sensitive and supportive - explaining things clearly and making the whole process (which was totally new to us) that much more straightforward. It took a load off our minds and he progressed things really quickly Thank you"

Here at Laurelo, we're committed to our clients and their path to probate

Here at Laurelo, we're committed to our clients and their path to probate