What to Do if You Have Lost Your Will
28 November 2017
Many people who make a Will some years later forget where it is or what it says. In this article I look at some of the common problems that might arise and offer practical solutions.
If you are looking for your Will then it’s likely that you either:
- Know what your Will says but want to change it
- Can’t remember what your Will says and want to remind yourself; or
- Just want to know where your original Will is so that you’re organised.
Changing Your Will if You’ve Lost it
If you know that you want to change your existing Will, then it’s not always necessary to locate it. The reason being that if you make a new Will you can stipulate that the previous Will shall no longer be valid. So if you can’t find your current Will, it won’t matter because, once you have a new will, the old one becomes redundant.
Remembering What Your Will Says
If you can’t remember what your Will says then you don’t always need to have the original version of your Will to hand. You can of course just review a copy of it initially.
If you had your Will prepared by a professional Will writer, then they may have sent you a copy of it. If you can remember the name of the Solicitor or the company that drafted your Will then you could contact them and request a further copy of it. If you have since changed address they will probably want you to request a copy in writing and sign it, so that they can compare your signature against the one on the Will. They may also request some identification from you.
Finding Your Will
So what can you do if you want to locate your original will but can’t find it? Well, a sensible place to start is to remember whether you wrote the Will yourself or whether you used a professional Will writing service to do it.
This is very important because if you wrote it yourself then the original Will is likely to still be in your possession somewhere. Do you keep a cabinet or special draw that holds your ‘important documents’? Would you have placed the original is a safety deposit box?
Is My Will Still Valid if I Can’t Find It?
Unfortunately if you cannot find it and there is no evidence (other than your memory) that your Will exists, then it’s highly unlikely that the Will would be found after your death. This would mean that you would be treated as having died without a Will in place, which is called dying Intestate, and strict rules would dictate who inherits what.
However, if you used a professional service to make your Will then its possible (or even likely) that the original Will is being stored by the company that prepared it for you. Most professional legal service providers offer to store your original Will after you’ve signed it. Some may charge a fee for this, either a one-off lifetime fee or a recurring annual charge.
If you used Co-op Legal Services to prepare your Will and you asked us to store the original for you, we’ll be storing it free of charge for you for the rest of your life.