Probate: Locating a Missing Will

After the initial shock of losing a loved one, the Will of the deceased is quite often one of the first things you will think about. Because, if there is a Will, it will describe how the deceased would like their estate distributed and it may even contain details of their funeral wishes.

The likelihood is that you may not know where the Will is and you may not even know for certain that there is a will. Or, the deceased may well have told you where the Will is. He or she may have even provided you with a copy.

If a Will does exist then the deceased’s estate can be distributed in accordance with it.

However, if there is no Will or the Will cannot be found, then the estate will be distributed in accordance with a set of arbitrary government rules called the Laws of Intestacy.  Consequently, the estate may not be distributed in the way the deceased had intended. Further, distributing the estate can take longer if there is no will. Therefore, it is crucial to make every effort to find out if there is a will and to locate it.

The examples below will demonstrate

For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Executives on 01702 552008 or contact us online and request a call back.

Missing Will Example

Helen’s mother, Mary, passed away in February last year and she was adamant that her mother left a Will. Her mother had told her on several occasions that she wanted her estate to go Helen. However, despite a thorough search of all her mother’s personal possessions she was unable to locate it. In the absence of a valid Will, the estate will be distributed as per the Laws of Intestacy. This would mean that Helen and her estranged sister, Jackie would inherit the estate equally which is not what her mother wanted.

Jackie was a drug addict and had stolen money from her parents several times, in the past, to feed her addiction. The last time they saw Jackie was 13 years ago. There had been argument which left Helen with a broken leg and a few broken ribs. Helen’s father passed away 6 years earlier and Jackie didn’t attend the funeral. This was why Mary wanted nothing more to do with Jackie and did not want her to inherit anything. And, why Helen wanted to exhaust every option in trying to locate the Will.

Helen instructed a probate firm to carry out a Will search on her behalf. A Will search takes around 28 days to complete. It is quite a comprehensive search and includes a search of the National Wills Register. If there is no record of a Will on the Wills register, then the next step is to contact local solicitors. And, this is what the probate firm did. Helen also continued to look through her mother’s house and possessions to make sure she hadn’t missed it. In the meantime, unknown to Helen, Jackie applied for the Grant of Probate and obtained it. The probate firm discovered this by chance. They were aware of the situation with Jackie and thought that they would do an online probate search.

Helen received the Will search results the following week. Unfortunately, no Will had been located. As a result, Jackie was a beneficiary of the estate and therefore entitled to half the estate.

If the missing Will had been located

If a Will had been located and, Helen was the sole executor and beneficiary then we would be looking at a different situation. A more complicated situation. First of all, the Grant obtained by Jackie would have to be revoked. Helen would then have to apply for a Grant in her name. She would then have the delightful job of trying to recover any funds and assets that Jackie wrongly received from the estate. This would be an absolute nightmare to sort out and could take months.


When you have lost a loved one, the last thing you want to be doing is sorting out their affairs. Especially the hassle of trying to establish if there is a will or not. And, if there is, where it is located.

If you need to find the will of a loved one we can take away this hassle for you:

Clarence Trustees can carry out an extensive Will Search on your behalf for a fee of £108.00 which includes:

  • Searching the largest Wills register for Will that has been registered.
  •  Contacting up to 75 solicitors in 3 different post codes for a Will that has not been registered. So for example, the post code area where deceased lived and the post code of two previous addresses.  
  • Placing a notice on the most prominent “Missing Wills Notice Board” used by solicitors.

Should you subsequently choose Clarence Trustees to administer the estate of your loved one, we will refund the £108.00 fee for the will search against our fees for administering the estate.


Find out about our Fixed Fee Probate Service

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