A will is an important document that states what should happen to an estate once someone passes away. Once this document is signed, it needs to be stored somewhere. Not being able to find a will can cause problems, so it’s important to know where to look for one.
Here we will look at the places you should check if you need to find a will. We will also chat about what happens if one can’t be found ✌️
Where to look for a lost will
There are no legal requirements for a will to be stored in one specific space. Due to that, there are numerous places where a will may be held. Here are some places you could look first.
Home – Some people will store their will at home and this is a good place to check first. It may be in a folder or drawer where the person kept all of their other important documents. Other places to check include an office, safe, bedroom or perhaps the attic.
Solicitors – Perhaps the most common way of securely storing your will is with a solicitor and more often than not it will be the solicitor that wrote the will or with a solicitor they have used in the past. Hopefully, you already know the solicitor they used or this is named on other documents. The executor of the will can gain access to it with the right identification.
Will writing service – Someone may store their will with a will writing service if they helped them write it. As with a solicitor, if you’re unsure who is holding it then you may need to ring around to a few different companies and ask them.
Probate service – People can also keep their wills with a probate service. This is an official register and you can check with their local district probate registry to see if they have it stored. Taking a will out of storage is fairly simple for an executor.
Bank – A local bank is another place where some people store their will. If it has been stored in a safety deposit box then this would present a big issue. These boxes can only be opened after probate so if the will is with a bank, hopefully it’s in a general storage facility. (Basically, putting your will in a bank is not the best idea 😂).
Storage – The will may be stored somewhere away from the home. Perhaps the deceased has a storage container that they had use of or even a garage. It’s good to think of any areas away from the home it may have been stored.
National Will Register - If they were smart enough to register their will then this would be a great place to look! It costs £30 to register (or free with our Premium Will) and it stays for life.
What happens without a will?
If you’ve exhausted all of the above possibilities, you may have to accept that you’re not going to be able to find the will. If you can’t find it, you’ll then have to proceed on the basis of there never being a will and this will involve the rules of intestacy.
I’m sure you would like to know what intestacy means, so here we go. Intestacy involves the estate being divided up between the closest living relatives. This will start with married or civil partners and then will go down to children, grandchildren and so on until the closest living relative is found.
If you disagree with this, it is possible to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act and argue that financial provision hasn’t been made that otherwise should have been. For example, a step-child, who is a child of the deceased but is not of ‘legal relationship’. By the way, rules like this perpetuate the old school way of thinking and show why you should have a will...to put ALL of your loved ones in your will, not just your ‘legal’ familial relationships. 💛
Carrying out their wishes
It’s sad to say but when it comes to an estate without a will, your opinion doesn’t matter. If the deceased told you of their wishes but it’s not in writing, then that’s not going to hold any legal weight. If you feel as though a family friend, for example, should have received assets from the estate then this is irrelevant as far as the law is concerned.
If there is no will, the answer for many families is to simply sort it out between themselves and hope that everyone will act responsibly.
Is finding a will important?
The importance of a will often depends on the value of the estate and how much it differs from the rules of intestacy. For example, if the deceased didn't have any assets such as a house 🏠 to leave behind, then it may not be as important perhaps.
Finding a will makes your life easier and allows the process to be much quicker. Don’t have a will yet? You can get one with us at Bequest, take a look at our Will FAQS to determine if it’s the right fit for you. We also have services to keep your will safe after it is signed. Then there's no reason for your loved ones to worry about finding your will 🎉 Read our article about the best places to store a will too!