When Estate Research were approached by a solicitor firm who believed that the deceased had died intestate and needed their help in locating the beneficiaries of an estate, Dominic Hendry, Head of Private Client at Estate Research recommended that a Certainty Will Search should be conducted first to confirm that there was no Will that the Deceased had written.
Dominic Hendry, Head of Private Client at Estate Research comments: “Estate Research were referred the case of Mr S who had died and his next of kin, a paternal first cousin who lived local to the Deceased was notified. The cousin then instructed solicitors who searched the property and made some local enquiries and no trace of a Will was located.”
“The solicitors were therefore content to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration on the basis that this would be an intestate estate.”
“The solicitors got in contact with Estate Research to assist in locating the intestate beneficiaries. We recommended that the solicitors first complete a Will Search Protect via Certainty the National Will Register. This search located the Will of the Deceased which was dated 20 years earlier but was valid. There were two named Executors, one gift of £10,000 to a named beneficiary and two named residual legatees.”
“We confirmed that one Executor had predeceased and provided the solicitors with a copy of the death certificate. We located the other Executor but he decided to renounce his executorship. We then located the beneficiary due the £10,000 gift and located the two residual legatees, one of whom had emigrated to Australia since the Will was made.”
“Now, the British-based residual legatee has instructed the original solicitors to apply for a Grant of Probate on their behalf so that the testate estate can be administered.”
“This case is a very good example of why, especially with any estate that appears to be intestate, it is always important to complete a Certainty Will Search to ensure that the wishes of the Deceased are honoured. The worst-case scenario is always that an estate is dealt with as an intestacy and then the testate beneficiaries claim on the estate post-distribution. This is why we always recommend a Certainty Will Search is completed.”
This case demonstrates that checking the deceased’s property and making local enquiries is not enough to safeguard against incorrect estate distribution. Without the Certainty Will Search, Estate Research would have traced the next-in-line to inherit and the solicitors would have distributed the estate as intestate. Therefore, taking the risk that a Will may come to light at a later date and revealing that the estate had been distributed incorrectly, resulting in repercussions for the law firm. It also saved Estate Research time and money on tracing beneficiaries that were not named in the found Will.