Upholding Ethical Standards in Probate Management

It is not unusual for a testator to be very private when it comes to drafting their will and may not advise any of their family members of their last wishes or even that they have written a will.

When it comes to inheritance, disputes can and often do arise. A Certainty Will Search eliminates that risk by providing reassurance that you have done everything that you can to try and locate a Will. Every day The National Will Register locates Wills that were believed not to exist or had been forgotten about. The below case study demonstrates how a Certainty Will Search prevented incorrect estate distribution and the financial and professional implication to all.


Ms W, a highly accomplished individual, recently passed away leaving behind a vast estate valued at approximately £1.4 million. With all her siblings deceased, Ms W’s four cousins were her remaining family. In the absence of a Will, the cousins entrusted Laurelo with managing the probate application for the substantial estate.


The cousins were advised by Laurelo, acting with due diligence, that a Certainty Will Search will be required prior to distributing an estate that was deemed to be intestate. A Will was identified as being held at another law firm. Finding the Will not only revealed that the estate was not intestate but in doing so identified the rightful beneficiaries being charities.


The Certainty Will Search brought the ‘unknown’ Will into play.


This unexpected discovery posed a profound ethical dilemma for all parties. The cousins, devastated by the revelation, found it inconceivable that Ms W would not have wanted them to inherit her estate. However, Laurelo, bound by ethical principles and legal protocol as well as due diligence for all parties, renounced their involvement in the case irrespective of the financial impact to date in doing so. They promptly handed over all relevant information to the executing solicitors and ceased all work on the estate. Laurelo’s best practice prevailed to provide the client and themselves whatever the result will be with protection and peace of mind.


Emma Knewstub at Laurelo advises “This case is a very good example of why, especially with any estate that appears to be intestate, it is always important to complete a Certainty Will Search to ensure that the wishes of the Deceased are honoured. The worst-case scenario is always that an estate is dealt with as an intestacy and then the testate beneficiaries claim on the estate post-distribution. This is why we always recommend a Certainty Will Search is completed.”


This decision, made in accordance with ethical obligation, understandably, caused the cousins’ disbelief and their disappointment palpable. Laurelo sensitively explained the repercussions of not proceeding with their late Aunt’s last wishes.


Laurelo remains steadfast in the knowledge that they acted ethically for Ms W and morally to the cousins and rightly so the intended beneficiaries. Upholding ethical standards, even in challenging situations, is paramount to the company’s ethos. This case serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of integrity and adherence to ethical principles in the realm of probate administration. Had a Will Search not been conducted the implications and losses could have been far greater.


Laurelo has won The Best Probate Provider in the South award at The Todays Wills and Probate Awards for the last 2 years running, cementing the firm as a leading figure in the probate industry and reinforces their mission to offer compassionate and transparent probate services.