Every day, The National Will Register receive enquiries from members of the public who believe that a relative or close friend had written a Will but, after their death, they are unable to locate one, either in their home or at the offices of a local solicitor or Will writer. The National Will Register is able to assist. In 2020, 20% of Certainty Will Searches located a Will, in some cases one which had revoked an earlier Will believed to be the last Will of the deceased and in other cases where it was thought that the deceased may have died intestate.
In this case study, Helen Tavroges, a partner in the Private Wealth Business Group of member firm Womble Bond Dickinson, discusses a recent case where a concerned neighbour of the deceased conducted a Certainty Will Search and, within 24 hours, a Will was located at the firm.
Helen explains: “The searcher in this case was a concerned neighbour of the deceased who was referred to The National Will Register by a funeral director. It transpired that the neighbour had been a good friend of the deceased’s mother who had asked her to care for her son in the event of her death. The deceased wasn’t married, he had no children, siblings or other close relatives and before his mother’s death he had been heavily reliant on her. After she passed away, the neighbour honoured her friend’s wishes and provided the deceased with care and assistance on a regular basis until his death. After the deceased passed away, the neighbour recalled a conversation that she had with the deceased’s mother about the importance of making a Will. Although neither the deceased nor his mother had ever said that they had made Wills, the searcher thought the deceased may have made one.”
The searcher conducted a Combined Will Search which searches for Wills that have been registered on The National Will Register and for Wills that have not yet been registered. Within 24 hours of the Will Search being conducted, a 1997 Will was located at the firm.
Helen continues: “A 1997 Will was located. We were aware that the firm had previously dealt with the deceased’s mother’s estate and had written to the deceased on a number of occasions asking him whether he wanted to review his Will as he had appointed retired partners of the firm as his executors, but we received no reply. In his Will the deceased gave his entire estate to his mother and in the event that she predeceased him he gave it to a number of charities. Without the Certainty Will Search, the deceased’s estate would have been distributed under the Rules of Intestacy to distant relatives that the deceased had no relationship with and not as he had intended.”
Helen concludes: “As a result of the Certainty Will Search, the firm are doing the probate work and are currently in the process of obtaining a Grant of Probate of the Will so that in due course we will be able to distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with his wishes.”