The world of Court of Protection and deputyships can be daunting to the uninitiated. Individuals affected and their family members and loved ones involved in the process are often dealing with stressful and emotive circumstances and feel burdened with responsibility. In this blog, we will show you how The National Will Register can help make some things clearer.
If you are a deputy, whether lay or professional, and need to arrange a statutory will, one of the first steps is to establish whether a will is already in place. You may already know this or be able to find out directly, but often you can confirm this by performing a Certainty Will Search which searches for wills registered on The National Will Register and for wills that have not been registered in geographically targeted locations.
Locating a will is also useful outside of statutory wills, as the contents and wishes made therein can help support deputies and attorneys in making informed decisions on behalf of the person.
What is a Will Search COP?
A Will Search COP searches for Wills that have been registered on The National Will Register and for Wills that have not been registered for someone who has lost testamentary capacity.
Why search for a will?
By searching for a will, you can demonstrate that adequate measures have been taken to consider the wishes and intentions contained in any unknown wills written by the person. This is particularly useful from a procedural perspective when applying for a statutory will or completing COP1a and COP1c forms. Again, it’s also invaluable when looking for what the person wanted to leave behind, which may support attorneys and deputies in making bigger decisions regarding their estate.
Searches with The National Will Register also impact estate administration often, with one in five found wills either superseding a held will, or being found where no will was thought to exist. With over 10 million wills in the system, The National Will Register is able to quickly search almost half of all wills in the UK. This combined with a REACH Search of unregistered wills in geographically targeted areas makes for a thorough and comprehensive search.
What happens should no will be found?
Should no will be found both through searching properties, asking family, friends, solicitors or storage facilities the person may have used beforehand, and through a Will Search COP, you can (backed up by the Will Search Report provided by The National Will Register) conclude that you have taken steps to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that there is no document, and then make decisions regarding the need for a statutory will and any other decisions accordingly.
What is the procedure to search for a will of someone who has lost capacity?
First, a deputy or attorney must complete an online form for a Will Search COP, and pay the appropriate fee (currently £126 inclusive of VAT as of writing) after which the Will Search COP will start.
If there is a positive match as a result of a search of registered wills with The National Will Register, or through the REACH Search of unregistered wills in geographically targeted areas, the law firm or will writing organisation holding the will are notified.
They will then reach out to the searcher, and request documentation such as proof of ID and either a deputyship application or order, or an LPA. If conditions are met to disclose the existence of the will, the custodian shall arrange for the will to be repatriated with the searcher.
Upon conclusion of the search, a Will Search Report is issued with the outcome of your Certainty Will Search to demonstrate the steps taken to find the most up to date will.
To begin a Court of Protection search and learn more, click here.