Taking a client’s word that no Will exists or that there is no later Will of the deceased poses a risk that the estate will be distributed incorrectly either as an intestacy or by using an invalid Will. This not only prevents the deceased’s wishes from being carried out but also means that it opens the possibility of claims against the estate arising in the future.
A Certainty Will Search eliminates that risk by providing reassurance that you have done everything that you can to try and locate a Will. Every day The National Will Register locates Wills that were believed not to exist or had been forgotten about. In this following case study, the solicitor searching did not take their client’s word for it and conducted a Certainty Will Search as a matter of precaution which resulted in Louise Salisbury, Partner at AST Hampsons being notified of their client’s death.
Louise comments: “A grandchild of the deceased went to another law firm in Preston where they lived believing that there was no Will and that they were the next-in-line to inherit. The firm advised that they should conduct a Certainty Will Search to ensure that there was no Will in existence.”
The searching firm conducted a Will Search Combined that searches for Wills that have been registered on The National Will Register (circa 8.7 million Wills in the system) and for Wills that have not been registered. A registered Will was located at AST Hampsons in Preston where the deceased had lived.
Louise continues: “We received a notification from The National Will Register that notified us that a firm of solicitors were searching for a Will. After checking our records, we were able to confirm to the searching firm that we were in possession of a Will made in 2019 for the deceased. After checking the Will and verifying the identity of the firm’s client, we confirmed to the searching firm that the Will did not name their client in the Will so therefore we could not disclose the contents of the Will to them.”
“Thanks to the Certainty Will Search, it notified us that the testator of the Will had passed away which we would not have been aware of. The Will appointed one Executor who had pre-deceased the testator and left the estate to one sole beneficiary. Without the Certainty Will Search the estate was left at risk of being distributed as an intestacy with the wrong individual benefitting from the estate. We are currently in the process of working with the sole beneficiary, a local charity, so that the firm can be appointed by the charity to distribute the estate on their behalf.”