When someone in the UK dies, the distribution of their estate can only happen once the estate’s executors or administrators have established if there is a will or not. In an ideal world, everyone would write a will and stash it somewhere safely – in a locked cabinet or drawer, the location of which would be known to all close relatives or a trusted friend. Then, the proper procedures can be followed in a timely manner, and the estate distributed to its intended beneficiaries. What if there are no obvious sings of a will, though? There is no such thing as compulsory registration for wills in the UK, so if someone dies and one can’t be found in any of the obvious places, there is no handy central registry to enlighten relatives or solicitors.

Finding a will

Finding a will can be a struggle. It might not be in the home, in the care home or with the deceased’s solicitor – that is, if they had a solicitor in the first place.
A will could have been written a number of years ago, marking a life-changing event, such as getting married or entering a civil partnership, having a child or inheriting money yourself.
If the deceased moved home in the past twenty years, that can further muddy the waters as the will might be held somewhere else, in a solicitor’s office in another town, city, county or even country.

Professional probate

Professional probate genealogy companies, such as Finders International, can help you find a will. First, we recommend you search yourself. In general, people keep the wills they create themselves in their homes. ‘Safe’ places include safes, cabinets, drawers, file folders in offices, etcetera, in the deceased’s home.
Then, you should ask any of the deceased’s known friends, relatives and neighbours if they know of a will. Once those two tasks have been completed – and if they are unsuccessful – then you can turn to Finders International’s professional legal support services for assistance.
We can also help in cases where a will has been found, but it is unclear if this is most up-to-date version.

Local searches for wills

To find a will, we carry out local searches, but can extend the area to include towns, cities and counties if the deceased has lived elsewhere. We check bank accounts, building society accounts and with the deceased accountant, if they had one.
We also get in touch with professional will writing associations, such as the Institute of Professional Will Writers and the Society of Will Writers who are local to the deceased’s last known address or any specific area that you request.
If our extensive searches do not turn up a will, we can provide an Aviva ‘Missing Will’ indemnity insurance quote for you, obligation-free. This insurance acts as a safety net to protect you against the possible later discovery of a will, where the intended distribution of the estate is different to its actual distribution and means that bequests that have already been paid out do not need to be repaid.
For further information about this service, please contact Finders International’s legal support services on 020 7490 4935 or email [email protected]