Increase in lay people searching for wills

​Sometimes, even if a solicitor is distributing or has distributed an estate, people known to the deceased will carry out their own investigations if they think there’s something untoward about the estate distribution.

Certainty the National Will Register reports that in 2018 there was an increase in people who don’t work in the legal profession (lay people) using a will search. In January and February 2018, will finds after a will search by a lay person hit a record high of 45 per cent.

Certainty asked 100 lay people who had carried out a will search what their motivations were, and found that:

  • 29% believed that a will did not exist and that the estate was intestate, but as a personal representative (PR), wanted to safeguard their position by searching. Of these, 11 wills were found.
  • 24% held a will, but as an executor, wanted to ensure that a later will did not exist or would not appear after they had distributed the estate. Of these, six later wills were found.
  • 4% were trying to discover if a will existed, because they felt the estate should not have been treated as intestate, or that the will used to obtain the grant of probate was not the last will.
  • One searcher stated that they believed a revoked will had been used that prevented them from receiving certain possessions from the deceased that held sentimental value for them.

‘Mathew L’, one of the one hundred surveyed, commented:

“We were not happy with the way in which my mother’s uncle’s estate was being distributed by another member of our family. We used a National Will Register search, and a later will was discovered. We were initially contacted by the solicitor who held the will, and my mother was asked to provide a death certificate and identification. The found will left a gift to my mother which she fortunately then received as part of the probate.”

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