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The word 'Lost' typed out hundreds of times to form the word 'Found'; our Probate Solicitors in Preston discuss a missing Will, and how you can locate one after your loved one has died.
When a person passes away, their Will plays a crucial role in determining how their assets will be distributed. However, situations may arise where the Will cannot be located after death. This can lead to uncertainty and complications in the administration of the estate. Understanding the implications of a missing Will and the steps that can be taken in such circumstances is essential for executors, beneficiaries, and family members. In this blog, our Probate Solicitors in Preston explain why Wills are important, and how you can look for a Will if it cannot be initially located. 
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Why is a Will important? 

A Will is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets and the care of any minor children upon their death. It appoints an executor, or executors, responsible for managing the estate according to these wishes. Without a Will, the estate is considered intestate, and the distribution of assets is carried out according to intestacy rules, which may not match what the deceased would have wanted. 

How to find a Missing Will 

If a Will cannot be immediately located following a person’s death, an exhaustive search is the first course of action: 

Check Personal Records 

Begin by searching the deceased’s personal files, safe deposit boxes, and any other locations where important documents might be stored. 

Contact the Deceased’s Attorney 

If the deceased had in place any form of LPA, or used a legal service to draft the will, reach out to them. Legal professionals often keep copies of the documents they prepare. Sometimes a search, such as a Will Register Search through Certainty, may be beneficial, to contact solicitors in the area in one go, without having to carry out individual searches with each firm. 

Ask Close Contacts 

Family members, close friends, or financial advisors might have information regarding the Will’s location. 

What happens if you cannot locate a person’s Will? 

If the Will remains missing despite thorough searches, the estate may be treated as if the deceased died intestate: 

Intestacy Laws: 

England and Wales is governed by the Rules of Intestacy, which dictate who benefits from an estate if a person dies without a Will. These laws typically prioritise spouses, children, and other close relatives, but might not reflect the deceased’s personal relationships or distribution wishes. In particular, stepchildren are not able to benefit under the intestacy rules, nor are friends, or non-blood relatives, such as nieces and nephews who were blood relatives of your spouse or civil partner. 

Appointing an Administrator 

Without a named executor, the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the estate’s distribution. This person may be a close relative but is chosen according to legal priorities rather than personal preference or ability to administer an estate. 

What issues can arise when there is no Will? 

Family Disputes 

The absence of a Will can lead to disputes among family members and beneficiaries about the distribution of assets, potentially resulting in legal battles that can prolong the Probate process and deplete the estate’s resources. 

Unintended Beneficiaries 

Intestacy laws do not account for non-relative beneficiaries, charitable donations, or specific allocations. Friends, charities, and others intended to benefit from the estate may be left out entirely. 

What steps can I take to stop my Will from being lost? 

To avoid complications associated with a missing Will, consider the following preventative measures: 

Secure Storage 

Keep the original Will in a safe, accessible place, and inform the executor and a trusted family member of its location (or at least the location where your important paperwork is kept, even if you do not specifically mention your Will). 

Legal Copies 

Maintain copies of the Will with your Solicitor, and potentially in a safe deposit box, clearly indicating the location of the original document. 

Regular Updates 

Regularly review and update your Will, ensuring that copies of any new versions are also stored securely and that the relevant parties are informed. 
The inability to locate a Will after death can significantly impact the administration of an estate, often leading to outcomes that might not align with the deceased’s wishes. By taking steps to ensure the Will is safely stored and easily accessible, and by communicating its location to key individuals, the risks associated with a missing Will can be minimised. In cases where a Will cannot be found, understanding the legal implications and navigating the situation with the help of qualified Probate Solicitors in Preston is crucial. 
Call our Probate Solicitors in Preston on 01772 783314 or email to arrange an appointment with the professionals. 

Contact Us Today: 

To speak to our Probate Solicitors in Preston, contact us online here. 
Or give us a call on 01772 783314. 

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