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Have you considered registering your Will?

21st February 2023

According to a study commissioned by The National Will Register, up to two-thirds of people in the UK would not know where to locate their parents’ Wills.

Every day The National Will Register locates Wills that were thought not to exist. 

It is thought that 20% of Will Searches on the National Will Register result in a Will being located where the estate was presumed intestate, or a later Will being discovered that would supersede the Will being used to distribute the estate.

Finding lost Wills can bring additional stress to what is already a very difficult time for your family. 

If you make a Will, you should ensure that you let your loved ones know where it is being stored. Or even better, register it with the National Will register to ensure it can easily be found. 

It is important to remember that storing your Will in a safety deposit box at a bank can cause problems. This is because the bank can’t open the deposit box until your executor gets permission from the court to access it – but this can’t be granted without the Will in the first place.

There is no legal requirement to register your Will, although there are a few reasons as to why you may want to:

  • Even if you lose your Will or it gets damaged, there is a copy in a permanent home online. Also, if you want to update your Will, you know exactly where to find the old Will.

  • Your loved ones may not remember your Will’s location exactly, or you could lose it. Registration makes sure they can find it easily and quickly. All they would need to do is carry out a search on the registration records, have some personal information ready, and your will would be shared.

  • If your loved ones are unable to find your Will, there is no way of knowing what your wishes were.

What happens if you can’t find your Will?

A Will does not take effect until death, and generally speaking can be changed or revoked at any time. You can even revoke your own Will by destroying it personally. 

Therefore, when a Will which was known to be in the deceased person’s possession cannot be found upon their death, it raises the question: has it been lost or destroyed?

If a Will has been lost, it will be assumed it was revoked by destruction.

If neither the original Will nor a copy can be located, then it will be necessary to proceed with administration of the estate under the rules of intestacy.

These provide a strict order in which close relatives of the deceased will inherit. This starts with any spouse, who will be entitled to the majority of the estate and is followed by any children.

For a small fee, or even for free if you make use of free Will registration month in May, you can have piece of mind that your wishes in your Will will be carried out and that you are making the administration of your estate as easy as possible in a difficult time. 

Further information

Bishop Fleming’s Estate and Probate team are well equipped to review your personal circumstances, provide you with an estimate of your exposure to inheritance tax and provide advice on mitigating that exposure.

You can find more information on our Estate Planning and Probate Services page.

If you would like to discuss how taxation of the family can impact your decisions, please contact a member of our Estate Planning & Probate team who will be pleased to talk to you.

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