May 2019 sees the launch of the first ever Free Will Registration Month. Providing law firms with the opportunity to register their Will Bank with The National Will Register completely free of charge, which provides many benefits to a law firm and their clients.
For over a decade, The National Will Register has built a significant National Will Register and Will Search service that protects law firms, testators, executors and beneficiaries each and every day. More than 5,500 solicitors use The National Will Register, ranging from sole practitioners to over 50% of the Legal 500 and the majority of the most respected firms in the country.
Today over 8 million Wills are in the registration system and this continues to rise daily thanks to law firms and their clients who recognise the benefits of Will Registration. Registering a client’s Will not only protects against incorrect distribution of an estate, and the issues that surround an unknown Will coming to light, but also the loss of probate work because the Will and the law firm that wrote and stores it are unknown to the executors and beneficiaries.
Sydney Mitchell Solicitors have registered their Will Bank. Tracy Creed, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate and Partner comments: “Registering our clients’ Wills, old and new, not only ensures that the last Will is being used to distribute an estate but it proves that registration of all our Wills ensures that they are located quickly and efficiently.”
It is a natural assumption that because a Will is written it will be found upon death. This is not always the case. In 45% of the searches carried out directly by members of the public (as opposed to through their solicitor), a Will was found through a Certainty Will Search.
In a survey conducted by The National Will Register, 100 members of the public were asked their reasons for conducting a Certainty Will Search. In the survey, 29 individuals were searching for a Will that they did not think existed but as a PR wanted to safeguard their position by searching. The Certainty Will Search located 11 Wills for these 29 individuals. Additionally, it revealed that 24% of the 100 searchers held a Will but as an Executor, wanted to ensure that a later Will did not exist before distributing the estate. Of these 24 searches, 6 later Wills were found.
Further reasons for searching included: searchers knowing that a Will existed but did not know where or who it was drafted by (19% of searchers), and those looking for a Will who were unhappy as they believed the Will being used to distribute the estate would be superseded by a new Will (12% of searchers).
Will Registration has ensured that law firms who register their Will Bank with The National Will Register receive more probate work.
In 2018, the highest reported amount of additional probate work received, due to Wills being registered by a single firm, was 86 probates. The firm stated that if their Wills had not been registered, then they would not have won the probate work (in the majority of cases, they would not have known their clients had died!)
To illustrate, 98% of law firms surveyed by The National Will Register said that their Will Bank included Wills where the testator had died and they had not received the probate work. Some law firms believed that this was because the testator had made a later Will elsewhere. This highlights the importance of a law firm checking for a later Will and not just proceeding with the Will they are presented with.
By registering their Wills, your client understands the repercussions of what could happen should their Will go missing in the future. It also means that they are aware of the distress it can cause their beneficiaries and executors, making them want to make sure that their Will can be easily and quickly located after they have died to avoid such situations. Will Registration ensures that their Will is better protected in the future.
When a person writes a Will they do so because they understand the importance of documenting their wishes and protecting their assets for their beneficiaries. Millions of testators have registered their Wills because they also want to protect and ensure that in the future, their executors and beneficiaries can find the Will and that the law firm that wrote and stores the original can make contact with them. They want their Will to be repatriated with the executors quickly and easily and without the emotional turmoil that can arise from family having to hunt through personal effects in an attempt to find the last Will.
To take advantage of The National Will Register’s first Free Will Registration month in May, call The National Will Register on 0330 100 3660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to take advantage of registering your Will Bank or enter the code FreeWillReg on the ‘Register a Will’ page on the website to register new Wills.