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How to Find a Will

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that sets out the wishes of the person who has died. It will state the names or parties that are to benefit under the will and will often include specific quantified bequests, as well as more general ones. It is important to ascertain if there is a will and to locate it.

Where to look

Wills are not held on public record prior to death so you may need to search for one. Places to look are:

  • In a desk, safe or file in the deceased's home
  • Kept by one of the executors or a relative
  • Their bank
  • Their solicitor
  • Their accountant
  • Their financial adviser
  • Their workplace

There are also a number of companies that charge for storing or registering wills (just search Google for "wills storage"). These companies also usually charge for searching so you are probably best steering clear unless you have evidence the deceased used a particular one. The exception is the Probate Service which charges £20 to store a will. It is free to search and free to withdraw wills.

First steps with the will

The will names one or more executors who are responsible for making sure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out. You should make sure that all executors are informed straight away. As far as is possible you need to ensure that the will you have has not been invalidated by a more recent one. In order to be valid a will also needs to meet certain conditions: these are discussed on the Validity of Wills page. If a will cannot be found, or you know that the deceased did not make a will the person will have died intestate. This is discussed in more detail in Intestacy.

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