Where’s the will?

Helping your beneficiariesHelping your beneficiaries

Do you know where your will is stored? More importantly, do your beneficiaries know? Natasha Narad, trainee solicitor at local solicitors Wiseman Lee, explains the importance of the National Will Register.

Many of us may have had a will prepared, or at least know that our parents have done so. However, how many of us can confidently say that our beneficiaries and executors are aware not only of the existence of the will but where the original is located?

In some countries, it is compulsory to register a will but this is not the case in the UK. Certainty, the National Will Register, which is the largest register of wills in the UK, has created a national database to enable solicitors and individuals to register wills they have made. If there is any doubt as to whether a person who died had made a will, or a more recent will than the one which has been located, the Certainty register can be searched. If a match is found, the law firm or individual holding the original will can be contacted.

Certainty only stores basic details, as it simply records the existence and location of a will. The contents of the will are not registered, and so data protection rules are not infringed.

The principal advantage of registration is in giving executors the best chance of the will being admitted to probate so that the intentions of the person who made the will, the testator, are more likely to be followed, and a person who went to the effort of making a will would not be deemed to have died intestate (without a will) because it has not been discovered.

Consider this scenario: someone made a will in 2015 leaving their entire estate to a friend who helped care for them but did not tell anyone about it. They had not been in contact with any family members for a number of years. On their death in 2018, the will was not discovered amongst their possessions. If the will had not been registered, it is quite possible that the friend would never benefit. If the executors do not find the will, the estate would be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Only spouses and blood relatives can benefit under intestacy and the distribution of the estate would be determined by statute. In the absence of any family members entitled to benefit, the estate passes to the Crown as bona vacantia (ownerless property). Whether family members are found or not, the distribution of the estate under intestacy rules may be contrary to the wishes of the testator.

Registering your will with Certainty can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your will can easily be located by your beneficiaries and executors, thereby simplifying the probate process and ensuring your wishes are followed after your death.

Wiseman Lee – which is located at 9–13 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PU – will be registering all wills they currently hold with Certainty and are offering free registration for the first 70 new wills they store. Call 020 8215 1000

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