When Dr Peters approached his local solicitor with a copy of his wife’s 1982 Will, he was informed that he would need to try and find the original before he could apply for a Grant of Probate.
Dr Peters comments: “As I had a copy of the Will, I was aware of the solicitors that had previously written my wife’s Will. I made contact and found that since we had drafted our Wills, the firm had been bought and sold twice, before it subsequently closed down in 2009.”
“I then contacted the Law Society who directed me to the SRA. They checked their records and confirmed that they didn’t hold any Wills for the law firm we wrote our Wills with or the subsequent acquirers. Unfortunately, they were unaware who had taken over the Will files! They advised me to contact The National Will Register to carry out a Will search.”
Dr Peters conducted a Certainty Will Search which checks to see if a Will has been registered on the National Will Register and for Wills that have not been registered through a geographically-targeted search.
The search found the 1982 Will of his wife, which was located at a law firm in Berkshire, along with Dr Peters’ Will.
“After providing a death certificate and identification, my wife’s Will was revealed to me and I was able to apply for a Grant of Probate, and didn’t have the trouble of trying to prove the copy.”
It took Dr Peters over three months to locate his wife’s Will after being informed by the initial solicitor that he would need to try and find the original Will. Had the solicitor suggested a Certainty Will Search at the initial meeting, the Will would have been located instantly.
Dr Peters continues: “When writing our Wills, it never even occurred to my wife or I that a law firm may close down or be taken over. There is obviously a very good safety net in place in The National Will Register but my life was made very difficult at an already difficult time because I was not advised correctly by the initial solicitor.”
“I am now writing a new Will and will do so with a law firm that can register it with The National Will Register.”
Recent data from the Legal Ombudsman quotes ‘failure to advise’ as one of the more common reasons for complaints upheld with them.