Lost wills or codicils

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Our contentious private client team can advise on the evidence required to prove a will, the original of which has been lost, together with the relevant procedure at the Probate Registry and any court application in the event of a dispute.

For an estate to be administered in accordance with the terms of the final will of a deceased, the original will must be sent to the Probate Registry who will then issue a Grant of Probate to the executors. This document confirms the authority of the executors to deal with the assets of the estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

If the deceased’s original will cannot be found, then there is a presumption that it has been destroyed and is therefore no longer valid. However, if a copy of the will exists and there is sufficient evidence to prove that that it was the last will of the deceased and had not been destroyed by the deceased, then the Probate Registrar may accept the copy will and may issue a Grant on the basis of a copy only.

Where sufficient evidence is available, it is also sometimes possible to ask a court to reconstruct a will even if a copy cannot be found.

Clearly, the facts and circumstances of each case will be very different and, while the relevant parties are sometimes in agreement as to the terms of the lost will, sometimes they are not, and this can result in court proceedings. It is therefore important to take legal advice to ensure that the deceased’s estate is administered in accordance with their final wishes and that the correct will is admitted to probate.

We offer expert advice on:

  • obtaining a Grant of Probate with a copy will
  • reconstituting a will where the original is lost
  • procedure at the Probate Registry
  • court procedure

Recent work highlights

Ferneley v Napier [2010] EWHC 3345 (Ch)

Acting for defendants whom the claimant alleged had conspired together to destroy a will made by their father, thereby resulting in the estate passing to his children under the intestacy rules instead of the claimant.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP