When a family member sadly passes away, it can be an incredibly difficult time for everyone. For friends, family, and work colleagues.
But in most cases, people create a Will. This details what they would like to happen to their estate once they have passed away. A Will provides a great way to distribute assets etc as the person wishes and removes any added stress of having to make decisions regarding who will get what, as this has already been decided.
However, what should you do if you can’t find the person’s Will?
Firstly, try and find the Will
It may sound obvious, but locating and having a person’s Will is the best possible option. Search the deceased person’s property, look through their paperwork, or wherever you think they could have a copy of their Will or information on where their Will is stored.
If you cannot find any information regarding the Will in the person’s belongings, the below options could be a possibility:
- Solicitors Regulation Authority Intervention Archives (if the solicitor who held the Will no longer exists)
- London Principal Probate Registry (holds Wills when they cannot be held by the law firm)
- Certainty (a Will finding service)
When you cannot find the Will
If, despite, all of your efforts the Will of the deceased person can not be found, you will need to proceed with the administration of the estate under the rules of intestacy.
When a Will is distributed under the rules of intestacy, who the inheritance goes to, is dependent on what family they have. Under the Government process, who inherits follows the below process, working down the list to identify where the estate should be distributed.
Who inherits the deceased person’s estate depends on where the deceased lived within the UK, and whether they:
- Have a living husband, wife, or partner
- Have any living children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren
- Have any living parents
- Have any brothers or sisters (if a brother or sister has died, their intended equal share will go to their children (nieces and nephews of the deceased))
- Have any half-brothers or sisters (if a half-brother or half-sister has died, their intended equal share will go to their children (nieces and nephews of the deceased))
- Have any living grandparents
- Have any aunts or uncles (if an aunt or uncle has died, their intended equal share will go to their children (cousins of the deceased))
- Have any half-aunts or half-uncles (if a half-aunt or half-uncle has died, their intended equal share will go to their children (cousins of the deceased))
Why it’s important to attempt to find a Will
As an executor of a Will, you must make attempts to find a copy of the original valid Will of the deceased person. By carrying out a thorough search, and trying as many possible options to find the Will, you can show that you did everything reasonable, to find the Will. This could be important in the future if any beneficiaries of the Will question any of your actions.
For more information on writing a Will, storing a Will or if you are the executor of a Will and want to know more about the process, please contact our Wills & Probate team. Call us on 01782 662424 or email us at email@example.com