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Question About A Will

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AuntPollyGrey | 17:59 Sun 28th Jun 2020 | Law
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If you are 100% sure someone who died left a Will (2003 UK) but can find no trace of the Will or Grant of Probate on Gov.UK data base is there anything you can do? The Will was made by a Will writing firm who did not keep a copy -the Will was kept in a Safe at the home address. If the Will was destroyed by someone so that the Spouse inherited everything through Intestacy laws would there be a record of that? If so were would one start to look? Thanks.

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The only way that I could see that the two children could end up on the title register to the property without probate being obtained on the estate (as would have been required if a will had been left by the husband), or without letters of adminstration being obtained (as would have been needed if the property had been owned by the couple as 'tenants in common) is...
19:28 Sun 28th Jun 2020
Good luck. I think it is not uncommon for wills to go missing. Unless a copy was left with someone I can't see how it can be traced
Google: search for a will uk.
There's a long list of websites that might help.
If there isn't a central register of wills I can see case for having one
This might be of some help:

https://www.nationalwillregister.co.uk/
There is no statutory register of wills (prior to the death of the testator and probate being obtained) in this country.

Some people choose to register the existence of their wills with the Law Society's endorsed provider, 'Certainty' (which is a registered charity), but that register doesn't hold the actual wills (or any copies of them); it only records the locations of will. (So, even if the will's existence was registered with Certainty, the only information they'd hold would be that it was stored in the safe).

Certainty's service is only really useful in cases where, for example, a will was stored with a solicitor's firm which has since gone out of business; the charity can then seek to trace where it might have ended up.

I have little doubt that thousands of wills simply 'disappear' every year where a person who would benefit under the intestacy laws realises that they'll do less well under the provisions of a will. (Let's be honest here. When my father died I would probably have seen to it that his will would have mysteriously 'vanished' if he hadn't left everything to me in it - and I'm far from the most dishonest person in the world!)

Where there appears to be no will (whether there ever was or not in reality), the person(s) with entitlement to inherit the estate can take control of the assets of that estate without the need to seek 'letters of administation' (which is the equivalent to a 'grant of probate' where a will exists) if the value of the estate is fairly low. You can find an indication of the maximum amounts that different banks will hand over without letters of administration (or a grant of probate) in this link here;
https://www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/media-centre/articles-may-aug-2018/bank-limits-for-probate/
In such cases it might be hard to track down the transfer of funds, as
(a) you'd need to know the name of the relevant bank ; and
(b) they'd be bound by strict rules on confidentiality anyway.

If the deceased person co-owned a house with their spouse as 'joint tenants' (which is the most usual arrangement) then, as far as the house is concerned, the contents of the deceased person's will are completely IRRELEVANT.

If the will stated, for example, "I leave my share of the house to the Battersea Dogs' Home", that provision would be NULL AND VOID, as it's the 'partnership' between the two people that owned the WHOLE of the house (rather than each of them owning a separate half of it), with the sole surviving partner AUTOMATICALLY acquiring full title to the property upon the death of the other person. While it's advisable for the surviving partner to notify the Land Registry of the death of their spouse (so that only one name is left showing on the title register), it often doesn't happen, with the survivor simply continuing to live in the property (and with the executor/administrator of his/her estate then needing to get the records updated).

Where two people co-own a property as 'tenants in common' (with each of them owning a half share in it, which they're then free to leave to whomever thet like in their will), or where the deceased person owned the whole of the property, then (assuming that the spouse is due to inherit the other half of the property, either under the terms of a will or under the intestacy laws), it's once again not unusual for the spouse to simply carry on living in the house until, after his death, the executor/administrator of his/her estate has to sort out the paperwork.

However you can check up on who is currently registered as holding the title to the property for just £3 here:
https://eservices.landregistry.gov.uk/eservices/FindAProperty/view/QuickEnquiryInit.do
Question Author
Gov.Uk have a data base of all Wills and Grants of probate from 1996 to present day. I've tested it with OH's mother who I know left a Will and it works. I've put in all the details for this person and no records come up for either a Will or Grant of Probate. I just wondered if when an estate is deemed to be intestate, there is a record of this, even just a recording of 'Intestate' as I know there was a will 100%. Unfortunately when the person died I was 4000 miles away and had no idea how the Estate was administered. This Will has not gone missing -it has been destroyed ( in my opinion)
I am not sure how you can be 100% sure that they left a will? I mean even if they had one written, they might have destroyed it themselves?
Question Author
Buenochico Thank you very much for that info. Without going into too much detail Mr A and Mrs A decided to make wills so that whoever died first, their share of the house would go to their three children ( one step daughter two sons). Mrs A did not get on with step daughter and I'm pretty sure when Mr. A died she said he had not left a Will. Turns out now that her two children are on the deeds of the family home as co owners with Mrs A. , two months after the death of their father, while the step daughter has been ignored.
BTW this is not my situation but a close relative who I believe 100%
Question Author
Woofgang you have a valid point but knowing the person they would not do that.
>>> I just wondered if when an estate is deemed to be intestate, there is a record of this, even just a recording of 'Intestate

If the person taking charge of the estate sought 'letters of administation' in order to do so, then the 'grant of administration' will show up when you carry out a probate search. However, as I've tried to indicate above, there would often be no need to seek letters of administration in order to get cash assets transferred from a bank where the limits shown in my link aren't exceeded.

If the spouse and the deceased person co-owned their house as 'joint tenants' then the spouse AUTOMATICALLY acquired the full title to the property (so, as far as the house was concerned, it was completely IRRELEVANT as to whether a will existed or not).
Oops! Crossed posts, I think!
APG the estate would have had to have been very small for Letters of Administration to be uneccessary. Chris will know but I believe that even if the whole estate passes to the spouse, then a letter of administration would be needed if the estate was at all substantial?
The only way that I could see that the two children could end up on the title register to the property without probate being obtained on the estate (as would have been required if a will had been left by the husband), or without letters of adminstration being obtained (as would have been needed if the property had been owned by the couple as 'tenants in common) is if the property was co-owned by them as 'joint tenants' (which, as I've mentioned above, is by far the most common arrangement).

It's not unusual for people to write wills which appear to leave 'their half' of a property to someone, only for it to be realised later on that (because they were 'joint tenants') they never owned half of the property, per se, anyway.

If the husband wrote a will which, on the face of it, left 'his half' of the property to be shared between the two children and the one stepchild, then (if he was a joint tnant with his wife, rather than them being tenants in common) there was actually no 'half' for him to leave. As the sole survivor of the legal 'partnership' which owned the property, his wife would have AUTOMATICALLY acquired full title to the property. She would then be free to enter into co-ownership of the property (either as joint tenants or as tenants in common) with anyone she pleased, allowing her to include the children but to exclude the stepchild. (i.e. the transfer of title to the property was a TWO STAGE process, with 'Stage 1' being the automatic transfer of the title to the surviving joint tenant and then with 'Stage 2' being a voluntary transfer by her include the two children).
Question Author
Thank you so much for this valuable advice buenchico. I know that Mr A & Mrs A changed the deeds of their house from Joint Tenants to Tenants in common before the Wills as they asked my advice being in Estate Agency. They were concerned that if one of them died and the other had to go into care that the house could be sold for Care home fees, hence the plan to leave one half to the three children should one of them die. I put them in contact with a Conveyor to do this and subsequently was told the Wills had been made. At the time of Mr A's death in 2003 the property was worth around £100000. This has all come to a head because Mrs A has now died, with her Will showing no provision what so ever for the step child, and her third of the family home being divided between her own children, the step child has received not one penny, I feel very sorry for this girl as she could really have done with the money, while the other two are more than well off, one being a millionaire. That aside she is sad beyond belief that this woman has not carried out her fathers wishes, I really son't know what to say to her. Looks like there is no way to know what happened to the original Will of Mr. A.
If they were indeed tenants in common then I simply can't see how title to the husband's share in the property can have been transferred to anyone else without a grant of administration being obtained.

Someone needs to make enqiries with the Land Registry to find out what documentation they were provided with when the transfer was requested.
Question Author
Update: Mr A's Will of 2003 has been found when they were clearing Mrs A's personal effects. Without going into details the two sons are going to honour their late fathers last wishes with respect to property shares for their step sister. What nice honourable kids they are, thank god they don't take after their mother.
I hope this gives you closure too APG

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