Q&A - Can a copy Will be used for probate if the original Will has been lost?

Q:    My father has dementia and has gone into care. My sister and I have joint power of attorney. We believed he kept his original Will at home, but we cannot find it and he does not understand when we ask him about it, and the family solicitor has long since retired. We have a copy of what we believe was the last Will he made, but what happens if he dies and the original has not been found?

A:    Normally, original Wills are held with the solicitor who drafted them, and the client has a copy. Enquiries should be made with the Solicitors Regulation Authority as to whether another firm of solicitors took over your family solicitor’s practice and holds the original Will. After your father’s death you can also enquire with Certainty - the National Will Search, who will conduct a search on your behalf to try to locate an original Will for your father as he may have made one with a different law firm you are unaware of.

If you can establish that your father never had the original Will in his possession, and it had been lost by the solicitor, then the copy Will you have may be used in an application for Probate. This complex procedure involves preparing a detailed sworn legal statement setting out the precise detailed circumstances relating to the loss of the original Will and what steps were taken to locate it, together with details of all persons who might inherit if there was no Will. Engaging the services of a specialist Probate solicitor will increase the chances of a successful application.

Although you hold a power of attorney for your father, the searches that you can carry out whilst your father is alive may be limited depending on the instructions contained with the power of attorney.

Article 26/04/2021

This question has been answered by Frances Cartwright, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

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Victoria Wilson

Victoria Wilson


A Partner and Head of our Probate, Wills, Trusts and Tax team