Intestacy? Let the search be the judge of that

Certainty National Will RegisterOutlined below are two case studies following Certainty Will Searches last week where the estates were ‘believed’ to be intestate and the solicitors involved provided polar opposite advice to their clients.

Case Study 1

The immediate next-of-kin informed their solicitor that the deceased did not have a Will. The solicitor took their client’s word on face value and did not advise using a Certainty Will Search. Unbeknown to the solicitor and the next-of-kin, another person used a Certainty Will Search and found a Will for the deceased!

Case Study 2

It was believed that the testator had died intestate. The solicitor dealing with the estate advised their client that a Certainty Will Search should be undertaken. The search was implemented and a Will was found.

In case study 1 the solicitor has just accepted the word of the client, possibly because they were close next-of-kin. There is a good test of truthfulness. If a client refuses to search then there usually is an unstated reason for their refusal that should raise alarm.

In case study 2 the solicitor handling the matter wanted to ensure that the personal representatives or the law firm were not placed at risk because an unknown Will exists. Importantly, if the deceased did have a Will then this also ensures their wishes are adhered to. The Certainty Will Search was carried out and a Will was found, the deceased had not died intestate.

The solicitor involved in case study 2 was Julian Cann, Solicitor and ADR Group Accredited Mediator at Gould & Swayne. Julian comments: “The Certainty Will Search found a Will for the deceased thought to have died intestate. The Will changed who would inherit and what would be inherited. At Gould & Swayne we pride ourselves on giving complete advice. The advice here was to use a Certainty Search, I would always consider the need for such in all other cases and a definite where there at first instance appears to be no Will. Who is to know if a Will or later Will exists, it is quite simple these days to prove you did everything practical using a Certainty Will Search to understand if a Will exists, if you are in possession of the last written Will and even find a Will which was thought not to exist. The search was undertaken and both the client and our law firm are better protected. Not advising a client to consider the need to use a Certainty Search is, in my opinion, not good practice in 2018.”

The Will had not been registered but was found at a law firm in Bristol, using a Certainty Will Search Combined that searches geographically for Wills that have not been registered.

For further information on Will registration and the types of searches you can carry out please contact us on 0330 100 3660 or email

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