The passing of a loved one can lead to disputes within the family as to whether the deceased had written a Will or if there is a later Will in existence. Those who are set to inherit either under the rules of intestacy or a favoured Will may insist that there is no Will as it would ensure that the estate is distributed in their favour.
It is important to not take your clients word for it and to conduct a Certainty Will Search which searches for Wills that have been registered on The National Will Register and for Wills that have not yet been registered. By conducting a Certainty Will Search, you can confirm that the last Will of the deceased has been located or confirm that the estate is intestate, proving that you have done everything you can as a professional to locate a Will.
In this case study, Arian Thornton, Senior Legal Assistant at member firm Hillyer McKeown explains why a Certainty Will Search was able to prevent a family dispute.
Arian comments: “I was initially contacted by the deceased’s partner, who advised me that our client had passed away. I confirmed to her that we held a Will for the deceased, and that she was appointed as the executor of the estate.”
“There was a dispute in the family, and I therefore provided some initial advice to the executor about what to do next. Other family members, who were not named in the Will, had taken it upon themselves to enter the property and remove valuable items. The family did not believe the deceased’s partner when she told them that there was a Will and under the rules of intestacy, they were the rightful beneficiaries of the estate.”
“We received a Will Search Notification two days after speaking to the deceased’s partner in the usual way, and I responded on the same day. I was able to confirm that we did hold a Will for the deceased but could not reveal the contents of the Will as they were not a named executor or beneficiary.”
“Confirming this seemed to settle the issues between the family, as they later arranged a meeting at the deceased’s flat to hand over the items that were previously removed from the property. The process with contacting The National Will Register was very easy and efficient and helped to prevent a family dispute that could have escalated further.”