At death, the affairs of the deceased should be wound up, their debts settled, and their remaining estate distributed to the beneficiaries. The entire process is referred to as ‘probate’, and it could differ depending on whether the deceased died with a will or without a will.

In some instances, you may be sure that the deceased left a will, but you can’t just find it. What do you do in such a case? First, you need to carry out a couple of searches to locate the document.

How to find a will during probate

Typically, the first place that you should search for the will should be at the deceased’s property. Thoroughly search all rooms, paying particular emphasis on any paperwork that you may find. Even if you fail to locate the will itself but you get the details of the professional that prepared the Will, you can request them to release the document to you.

Sometimes, you may realise that the firm that drafted the will may have closed down. In such a case, even though you know the firm that drafted the document, it may be difficult to get the original copy. However, if the firm involved was regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) before it ceased operations, you can contact the SRA’s Intervention Archives department, and they will help you to find the original.

Another option would be to contact the Principal Probate Registry in London, which is the central government’s will storage service. Also, you can contact Certainty – the National Will Register, which offers a voluntary Will Storage service which a lot of professionals use.

What if it’s still unavailable?

If you fail to find the original will, but you get a copy of the signed will, you can submit it to the probate registry for them to decide whether they can use it to issue Grant of Probate. It’s advisable to seek legal services because the process requires a lot of documentation and you need to be certain that it is a copy of the last will and that another one has not been made subsequently.

If you cannot locate either the original will or a copy of the signed will, then you’ll have to administer the estate as though the deceased died without leaving a will – Intestate. In such a scenario, The Rules of Intestacy will determine who will distribute the estate and how the distribution will be done.

I am a professional Will writer based in Leicester with over 18 years’ experience in this area of law. Get in touch today for a friendly, sensitive service that offers free home visits and weekend and evening appointments to make the process as easy as possible for you or your loved one.