Q&A - What happens if father's Will cannot be found and how do I know if it's valid?

05/03/2012

Q:  My father doesn't like people knowing about his private affairs, even close family, and he doesn't believe in solicitors. Although he says he has made a Will I haven't seen it and if it exists I don't know where it is. I am worried what will happen when he dies, if I either can't find his Will or else it hasn't been drawn up properly.

A:  When you make a Will it is important to inform your executors that you have done so, and to let them know where it is stored. If a deceased's Will cannot be found it will be deemed that he or she died intestate and the court will decide who should deal with the deceased's affairs and who should inherit their estate. Sorting everything out can be complicated and take a long time, so it is advisable to consult a solicitor as early as possible and give them all the information you can find about the deceased's property, belongings and financial affairs.

Regarding your concern that your father's will may not have been properly drawn up, incorrectly executed wills are a surprisingly common problem. To be legally valid a will must be signed, dated and witnessed according to specific rules, otherwise it is unlikely to be upheld if challenged in court. The rules are: a will must be signed first by the writer and then by two witnesses, all of whom must be in the same room throughout the entire signing and witnessing process. Witnesses must be 18 or over and should not be beneficiaries of the will or a spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary of the will. A blind person cannot be a witness. The will must be dated with the date that it is signed and witnessed. Once that has happened there must be no further pages added to the will.

Victoria Wilson

Victoria Wilson

Partner

A Partner and Part of our Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax team in Oswestry