Every day The National Will Register locates Wills that were thought not to exist. In 2020, 20% of Certainty Will Searches resulted in a Will being located where the estate was presumed intestate or a later Will being discovered that would supersede the Will being used to distribute the estate.
In this case study, Dominic Hendry, Head of Private Client at Estate Research discusses how a Certainty Will Search was able to locate an unknown Will and prevented the estate from being distributed incorrectly.
Dominic comments: “Estate Research were approached in January 2020 to assist with an estate matter. The solicitors were approached by a neighbour and friend of the deceased who had died a month earlier. The neighbours searched the flat and found what appeared to be a valid Will but dated 1981, nearly 40 years out of date.
“The solicitors were not in contact with – and could not locate – either of the executors or the residuary beneficiary.
“The solicitors approached Estate Research and requested that we run our cost-neutral, risk-free Executor and Beneficiary Search service which is designed for just such cases.
“Unfortunately, our research would go on to prove that the two executors and the sole beneficiary named in the 1981 Will had all died before the deceased with no provision made in the Will for such an eventuality. Therefore, after confirming with the solicitors that they agreed that this resulted in an intestacy situation, we began to look for the next-of-kin of the deceased.
“After locating great-nephews and nieces of the deceased and having one of them appoint the original solicitors to act, the solicitors then immediately ran a Certainty Will Search, looking for a more recent Will.”
A Certainty Will Search searches for Wills that have been registered on The National Will Register and for Wills that have not yet been registered.
Dominic continues: “Through conducting a Certainty Will Search with The National Will Register and writing to local firms, the Certainty Will Search located a Will dated 1992.
“Once again, the executors and two residuary beneficiaries from this Will were unknown to the solicitors and so we reverted back to our search service and we located the sole surviving executor and one of the two residuary beneficiaries named in this later Will. The other residuary beneficiary had again predeceased and the solicitors were of the view that a partial intestacy was therefore created.
“In the end, the estate was divided 50% to the surviving residuary beneficiary and 50% to the great-nephews and nieces.
“For us, this case highlighted two important things;
- The importance of always running a Certainty Will Search – for both testate and intestate cases. Can you ever be sure there is no Will and/or a more recent Will?
- The importance of using a genealogist to make sure that the estate is distributed correctly and that all legally entitled beneficiaries are properly mapped, located and accounted for. It is worth noting from the case above that all of the research was done at no cost to the solicitors and that through the work of Estate Research, the solicitors were subsequently appointed to act and able to deal with both the administration of the estate and the conveyancing of the flat.”