How certain can you be that the deceased did not make a will?

With no compulsory will registration in the UK, where do you go to look for a will following someone’s death? The person looking for the will may face an uphill struggle trying to find one. If it’s not with the deceased’s bank, in their house, or care home, and it doesn’t appear that the deceased had a solicitor, then where is it? At this point, most people will turn to a professional to carry out a number of searches to assist them with the search.

A number of companies offer a will search service, which includes contacting solicitors and will writing companies, in the area where the deceased was known to have last lived. But what if your knowledge of the deceased and their movements and their history is limited?

“Take myself as an example,” says Kate Thorp, DUAL’s Inheritance Protection Manager. “I live in Kent and have done so for the last 20 years. I came from the Midlands originally and my will is held by a firm of solicitors in Manchester. It is held there because I have a personal attachment to someone at this firm and trust them. What happens 20 years down the line though? What if I become a hermit and my cat eats all the paperwork relating to my will? I am sure no one would think to check with a firm of solicitors in Manchester after I died to see if they held my will.”

“When a solicitor or will writer receives a request to search for a will from a will search company, how would one know if they carry out the search and check their records? The simple answer is, you don’t. There is often no requirement for a reply to be sent to the will search company. Silence is treated the same as the solicitor confirming they have no record of a will. Having spoken to numerous solicitors over the years, I know there are firms out there in the UK who simply ignore these search requests, usually sent by email. Firms are not always checking their internal records. “It is impossible to know how widespread this practice is”, says Kate Thorp, “but it certainly should be a concern to those people who rely on these search results when distributing an estate and doing so with the belief that there is no will out there.”

“Stand-alone missing will insurance has never been as popular as other types of inheritance insurance policies, which has always mystified me,” says Kate Thorp. “A solicitor seems fully prepared to take out missing beneficiary insurance to insure a missing aunt due £20,000, last known to have travelled to Canada in the 1920s, who would now be aged 123 and who no one has seen or heard from for 97 years, but is not prepared to insure the risk that the deceased may have made a will and this will is sitting in the vault of an office somewhere, anywhere, in the UK, leaving their entire £500,000 estate to Battersea Dogs Home. Which risk is higher and more likely to result in a claim and a large claim at that?”

Will searches can be imperfect. DUAL Asset provides missing will insurance and also comprehensive probate insurance, which includes will cover.

To find out more, contact the Underwriter below:

Kate Thorp
Manager – Inheritance & Estate Protection
+44 (0)20 7337 8775
[email protected]