Intestacy? A will search can be the judge of that

signatureTwo case studies following will searches last week challenged the assumptions of both client and solicitor. Certainty the National Will Register explains.

Case study one

  • The immediate next of kin informed their solicitor that the deceased didn’t have a will.
  • The solicitor took their client’s word on face value and did not advise using a 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.

Here, the solicitor accepted the word of the client, possibly because they were close next of kin. 

Case study two

  • It was believed that the testator had died intestate.
  • Nevertheless, the solicitor dealing with the estate advised their client that a Certainty will search should be carried out.
  • The search was carried out and a will was found.

In this case, the solicitor handling the matter wanted to ensure that the personal representatives or the law firm were not placed at risk if an unknown will existed. And importantly, if the deceased did have a will, that their wishes were carried out. It was found that the deceased had not died intestate after all.

The solicitor involved in the second case study was Julian Cann, of 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.... 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 combined will search that searches geographically for wills that haven’t been registered.

About the author

Certainty is the longest established and largest will register in the UK and is the Law Society's endorsed provider of a national will register. To find our more and search for a will, go to

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