The answer to the question is in two parts: a) when the estate is believed to be intestate based on hearsay or assumption and b) when a simple check using a Certainty Will Search  is not made.
Part ‘a’ and part ‘b’ occur every day because best practice advice surrounding proving the last Will or ascertaining if a Will exists is not always explained to the client.
Below is a typical example where a solicitor provided a client with solid advice and a Certainty Will Search was undertaken.
Two bereaved sisters were advised by their solicitor to use a Certainty Will Search prior to distributing an estate that was deemed to be intestate. Following a Certainty Will Search, a Will was identified as being held at another law firm. The law firm that held the Will was Rothera Sharp, a firm with eight offices throughout Nottingham.
Finding the Will not only revealed that the estate was not intestate but in doing so identified the rightful beneficiary. Rothera Sharp has been providing high quality, legal advice for nearly 200 years. Karen Hayward, Partner at Rothera Sharp explains: “The two sisters of the deceased were made aware that there was a Will but knew nothing more. The law firm advising the sisters suggested that they conduct a Certainty Will Search Combined as a best practice procedure to protect themselves from an unknown Will coming to light at a later date. When we received the Certainty Will Search notification, we located a Will from our records dating back to 2007 that we were holding for the named deceased. The testator had left their substantial estate to one sole beneficiary, this being somebody who would not have inherited under the intestacy rules.”
The Certainty Will Search brought the ‘unknown’ Will into play. Karen added: “We always recommend a Certainty Will Search to our clients.”
The action of advising the client to use a Certainty Will Search meant that the estate was distributed correctly. Incidentally a Will Search Combined not only checks the register for Registered Wills (see below for updated total) but also includes a REACH search that searches in geographical areas for Wills that have not yet been registered. A Certainty Will Search is a low cost disbursement with a highly protective purpose.
…Real life Will search stories from the legal profession…