When someone close to you dies, you might not be sure if they have a will or not. Losing someone is a stressful time, and there are a lot of things you need to do over a short period. Sometimes the executor might not be releasing information which can add to the stress. Below we answer how and when you can find out if someone has a will.
Check with their family. Ask the family if there is a will. This might be a little awkward but if you want to know, they are often the best port of call. However, just because they have a will, it might not be the most recent. So looking at the remaining options is also a good idea.
Check their home. People often keep their legal documents in one safe place, which includes their will. This could be a cupboard or a filing cabinet. Whilst looking, you might also find contact details for a lawyer, this could be the lawyer who wrote the will. An important thing to remember before you start looking through a loved one's belongings is that it can be hard emotionally. Seeing handwritten notes of someone you love can be difficult. You could do this together with other family members, or ask someone close to help with support.
Check with a solicitor. There are several solicitors you might look at reaching out to when trying to find a will. A local solicitor is a good start, as people often complete life admin close to home. If you have a family lawyer, who has previously helped with things like buying a house, they might have also been asked to write the will.
Check the National Will Register. A final option is the National Will Register. These are wills registered by solicitors, professional will writers and storage facilities. The cost of searching for a will starts at £38+vat and is an allowable disbursement of an estate. Keep in mind: not everyone uses the register and there is no guarantee the will is the most recent.
Finding the will of your loved one is often just the start of the journey. Unless you are named as the executor of the will, and if it is being held by a solicitor, you will not be able to read it. This is not personal, it is normal and is there for protection. A grant of probate is often required before anyone can start settling the estate. Once this has been applied for, a copy of the will is stored by the government. This copy can be seen by anyone who applies.
Luckily, within England and the UK, probate records from 1858 onwards are searchable via post or online. You can search their records via the Government's online database or can be obtained by filling out the PA1S form and sending it by post.
To be given access, you’ll need:
Either option will cost £10, and this will give you copies of the will and the grant of probate.
There are hundreds of firms that can help with probate, but it is always hard to find ones who have your best interests at heart. That is why we partnered with the National Bereavement Service (NBS) who have a panel of lawyers we can trust.
Here at Octopus Legacy, we start by finding out if you actually need professional help, because sometimes you can complete the process yourself. If we decided together that you need help, we offer a range of simple and comprehensive estate administration services at guaranteed fixed prices. Prices start at £599.