The experienced Wills & Probate solicitor was visibly upset when explaining how a client had been cremated instead of buried despite explicitly requesting burial in her Will.
‘What happened?’ I asked.
She replied ‘Well, the lady had her Will written with us and we stored the original but it wasn’t traced by her family. The copy was lost and they presumed that no Will was written…so she was cremated.’ The lady had specific & important reasons for not wanting cremation.
A true story highlighting the risk, and impact, of a Will not being found.
Despite best intentions of solicitors and clients there are many varied circumstances where a copy Will is ‘lost’ and the original untraced. Passage of time, house moves, chaotic personal paperwork, even intentional destruction, may cause a Will to remain with a law firm once the individual has died. It goes without saying that the prospect of this causes consternation to the testator and solicitor with potentially significant ramifications for the family and beneficiaries.
So when someone dies and an estate is to be distributed it is important to establish if a Will or a later Will exists satisfying the wishes of the deceased, giving comfort to remaining family and enabling the law firm and executors to complete the process with protection in place.
Searching for a Will has long been an intrinsic part of Wills & Probate practice though it has been an expensive and time consuming process, often with limited chance of success. This is no longer the case with Certainty Will Search, which enables interested parties to search for a Will in any part of the UK through an accredited and recommended process. Safe and secure, the process does not allow ‘snoopers’ to randomly check and any information released is controlled by legal professionals.
Launched in 2010 the service interconnects law firms throughout the UK, producing an instant ‘Will Search request’ sent to firms in specified regions relevant to the deceased. Many, many Wills, presumed never written or lost, have now been found using Certainty Will Search.
The service is routinely used by law firms, probate researchers, Treasury Solicitor, members of the public and other authorised users. Simon Shaffer (pictured) of Moerans Solicitors in North London says ’we find the search service fantastic. Not only did we find the Will we were searching for but also an earlier one as well’.
A member of the public also provides a clear example of the power of Will Search. Mr Hope lost his brother back in December 2011 and could not find a Will. A high street bank was pressing to deal with the estate as intestate but Mr Hope was sure a Will was written so he contacted Certainty. After the simple, inexpensive process to search the Will was located at a law firm in the Midlands, ensuring that his brothers wishes were fulfilled. Mr Hope says ‘I would not have found the Will without Certainty. It has given me great peace of mind at a difficult time’.
Solicitors operate in an era of increasing litigation and should take steps to protect themselves against such action. Within the legal world regulation and compliance requirements are increasing so it’s comforting to know that Will Search is a recognised process to assist with both. With the removal of prescribed rules in favour of Outcomes Focused Regulation solicitors can take a simple, effective measure which shows focus on a suitable and fair outcome.
For more information on Will Search please contact firstname.lastname@example.org