What to do if a will is missing

Where it is known or believed that a will exists, all reasonable efforts should be made to locate it.

If the will cannot be found, contact should be made with any close relatives or associates of the deceased, such as financial advisers or accountants, to determine whether they know the will’s location. If the will was known to have been written by a solicitor or will writing company they should be contacted. In many cases the original will, or a copy of the will, will be held at their office.

Alternately, if the deceased wrote their own will it may have been lodged with their bank, or passed to their executor to hold on their behalf.

It is also possible to place a notice in national newspapers if it is thought the deceased made a will with a solicitor, but it’s not known where.

If the original will can’t be found but there is evidence that one was made, an application can be made to the probate registry for permission to apply for the grant with a copy, draft or reconstruction of the will.

However, if a will has been lost and was assumed to have been in the testator’s possession immediately before their death, the presumption is that it has been revoked.

If a will or copy cannot be located or it is assumed no will exists then An ‘administrator’ is the person who deals with the estate if there’s no will. You can usually apply for a grant of representation to be the administrator of the estate if you’re the person’s next of kin, for example their spouse (or civil partner) or child.

You can still apply if you’d separated from the person but you were still married or in a civil partnership when they died.

You can’t however apply for a grant of representation if you’re the partner of the person but weren’t their husband, wife or civil partner when they died. You’re also not automatically entitled to any of your partner’s estate.

Thy Will Be Done’s specialist probate department can help with these matters and there is no fee for advice, we will only charge a fee if instructed to act.