There are many complications which can arise for an executor dealing with an estate, both legal and practical – for example how do you find out what assets the deceased had?
A good example is trying to find a will. There are a few common places to look when trying to find a will but a great start is their underwear drawer! If that draws a blank then try the solicitor who drafted it, if you know who they are – if you don’t know who they are, then try contacting the local Law Society who will often contact local solicitors for you. Other places include the deceased’s bank, though this is less common nowadays, the government probate service and some private companies who store details (such as Certainty). Even if you have found a will or a copy of one, it may be worth making these checks anyway, since that particular will may have been superseded.
It is fairly common for it to appear that a will is lost only for it to turn up in an unexpected place later on – especially when a house is cleared.
The Daily Mail reported a couple of years ago about the MoD losing the wills of servicemen – I have no idea how much truth there is but I’m sure in an organisation like that, where wills can be made quite informally, the issue does crop up.
So what happens when a will is lost? When you absolutely know that a will has been prepared? Will a copy will do? Thankfully, yes, but the situation is not ideal.
Most solicitors prefer to give out copies of a will and keep the original in storage to avoid the problem (and partially so they can have a crack of the whip trying to sell probate services) but even when the client wishes to take the original they should have either a photocopy or a scanned version saved – this can significantly reduce issues, since often they will be able to certify that it is a true copy of the original.
If you do believe you have been appointed an executor of a will but that it’s been lost, it would be best to speak to a specialist probate solicitor - perhaps the solicitor most likely to have drafted it – but here at Probaters.com, we would be happy to help.