To lose a loved one is a very difficult time for the family. It can be made even more difficult when obstacles are thrown in your way which can delay you being able to move on.


If a will cannot be located or someone dies without a will then the rules of intestacy will apply. This could mean that the deceased estate and assets are not dealt with in accordance with their wishes and in some circumstances can see family members being unintentionally missed out of an inheritance.


So, ideally you need to track down a will to avoid intestacy rules kicking in.


Where to Start Looking For Someone’s Will

  • Start with the obvious and look in the deceased home for their will or a copy of the will. The first place to start looking is probably an office, desk, home safe, bureau or the place where they stored their important paperwork. If you are unable to find it among their bills, passport and other important documents then start to think of other ‘safe’ places. Draws, under the bed, boxes tucked away in a wardrobe etc. may be worth trying.
  • If you are an executor but not a close family member then seek permission from immediate family before searching the house top to bottom. If there is a family member that made regular visits or was close to the deceased, ask them if they knew of where they stored important information.
  • If they hold a safety security box at a bank or building society then this may be where they stored important documents. If they were a business owner then they may have kept important documents in a business safe or office.
  • If the deceased is divorced or separated from a previous partner it could be worth checking that a copy of their will isn’t still stored within their home or personal documents. Consider whether it is appropriate to contact them at this point.
  • Check with local solicitors. If the deceased has moved it might be worth checking with local firms around their previous addresses. Whilst searching paperwork, check to see if you recognise any headed paper or documents from solicitors. It is possible that they would have made their will with the same solicitor they used to move house etc.
  • Check with their bank or mortgage broker. Sometimes people make a will when buying a house or moving property, so sometimes will-writing services are offered by these firms at that time. If the deceased had a Financial Advisor or personal banking manager then they may have information on their will.
  • If you believe that a will was made more recently and you have access to their computer and emails then it may be worth checking their inbox for any correspondence with a solicitor or will-writer.
  • You can check the National Wills Register or the London Principle Probate Registry to see if their will is stored or registered. It is not compulsory to register all wills, so you may not find it here; you will also incur a charge for this searching service.

Keep scrolling for more key information when dealing with someone’s will and estate…

What Happens if I Can Only Find a Copy of a Will?


Copies may not be signed or witnessed (and therefore not valid). They may not be the final version or your loved one could have made changes to their will subsequently, so it is important to locate the original document too.


If you can locate a copy but not an original then contact the solicitor or firm who has made the copy (this should be on letter headed paper). If an original can still not be tracked down then speak to the solicitor you wish to deal with the estate for advice.


What Happens if a Will Cannot be Found?


If you are unable to locate a will then the estate will be dealt with under intestacy rules. If the deceased’s circumstances are simple and the estate is modest then this may not be bad news. However, if they have a more complicated family structure (for example, they are re-married or have children from previous marriages) then you may find that the assets are not distributed in the way intended.


It is very difficult to contest an intestate estate, but it may be worth speaking to a solicitor that specialises in contested probate for more information and to see if you have a worthwhile claim.


Help with Probate


If you have lost a loved one and are going through the process of administering their estate then please get in touch for assistance or guidance. Our compassionate and professional team help clients every week who have lost someone close to them and understand the process along with the emotions you are feeling.


Get in Touch with Probate Solicitors


Call us on 01256 844888, email enquiries@lambbrooks.com or if our offices are closed then you can speak to our online chat assistant who will ensure that you are contacted by an expert as soon as possible.


Other Articles That May Interest You:

I’m an Executor of a Will, What do I Need to do?

Taking Care of a Property When Someone Dies

Losing a Loved One: Practical Starting Points


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.