How to Find a Will

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to carrying out the wishes of a loved one who has passed away. Wills can be useful in this way as they set out exactly how the person who has died would want their assets to be shared.

If someone close to you has passed away and you’re unsure where their Will is, or if they have one at all, there are ways to find this out.

How do I find a missing Will?

If you believe you could be the executor of a Will that’s missing – meaning you’re the person responsible for distributing the estate – it’s important that you establish whether a Will exists and, if it does, where it is located.

In this guide, we’ve explained how to find out if someone has left a Will, as well as what you can do to track it down. We’ve broken this process into four key stages:

Search the house

Before doing anything else, make sure you’ve looked around the home of the person who has died. Most people keep their Will (or a copy of it) within their property, so this is a good place to start.

Some of the best places to look are:

  • Cupboards in a study or office
  • Safes or locked drawers
  • The attic
  • The main bedroom

You should always get the permission of family members before searching the home of the person who has passed away. This will help to avoid any accusations of trespass further down the line.

Speaking to family members could also shed some light on where the deceased person might have kept their important documents. People will often share this information with relatives, so it is worth asking if anyone knows anything.

Ask their solicitor for information

If you know that your loved one made a Will but you’re not sure where it is, their solicitor could help you.

Solicitors will sometimes store Wills for their clients, so it may be that the Will you’re looking for is still with them. If this is not the case, they could at least have a copy of the document.

As an executor, you would be entitled to receive the Will from whoever is currently holding it. You’ll be asked for a death certificate and proof of your identity, so we would suggest having these ready to show.

If the firm used to write the Will no longer exists, you shouldn’t give up. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has an archive of records for all the solicitors in England and Wales. They will be able to tell you who took over the solicitor’s practice and where the Will is being kept now.

Contact their bank

Banks will occasionally store Wills on people’s behalf. And it could be that the person who passed away gave their Will to a bank for safekeeping.

If you’re an executor, you can ask the deceased person’s bank if they have a copy of the Will. If they do, you’ll be entitled to make a request for it. Again, you will be asked for ID and a death certificate, so make sure you have these to hand.

Carry out a Will search

There are companies who offer Will searching services who will look for a Will on your behalf. But there is no guarantee that this will be successful.

These services will usually involve a search of Wills stored by solicitors across the country, as well as more localised searches near to where the deceased person lived.

When you seek the help of a professional Will searching company, you will be charged for the service. So we would suggest doing your research beforehand to see if it’s worth going down this route.

What happens if I can’t find a Will?

If you can’t find a Will after taking the steps above, the estate would need to be distributed under the rules of intestacy. These are the same rules that apply when a deceased person has not left a Will behind.

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to manage assets based on the terms set out in a Will copy. This will not always be possible, though, so we would suggest trying to locate an original Will first.

If you’re struggling to find the Will of a loved one, or you’re dealing with disputes over how assets should be divided, our Wills and probate solicitors could help you.

To find out more, get in touch with our friendly team by phone or start your enquiry online.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements 08005677866

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