UK Disputed Wills

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The problem of a will that is lost is not an uncommon one. Typically when the proposed executor applies for a Grant of Probate, they must provide the original will. However, in certain situations, a copy of an original will that is lost can be proved and thus serve as a valid substitute. There are many reasons why a will could be missing. For example, it could be safely stored in a bank vault or safe deposit box that the deceased's family was not aware of.

Another possibility of an alleged missing document is that it is not a case of a will that is lost, but the will was intentionally destroyed by the testator. Deliberate physical destruction by the testator or at the testator’s instructions is a means of revoking a will, such as by burning or tearing up the document. Lost wills, unfortunately, can quickly lead to litigation. For instance, suppose the deceased had two wills. The first will named Jane as a beneficiary, but the second will did not. A second valid will usually contains a clause that revokes the first will. Jane will no longer receive anything when the testator dies. However, what happens if that second will, the one that does not include Jane, is lost? The proposed executor will attempt to prove a copy of the will, but Jane may want to challenge it. She could argue that the second will is not a will that is lost but was intentionally destroyed by the testator and that the first will is the valid one. Such scenarios are played out in Probate Registries across the UK every day.

If it is a genuine case of a will that is lost, proving a copy of a lost will requires putting forth evidence in the Probate Registry that the will was not intentionally destroyed by the testator. For example, the proposed executor may be able to prove that the will was last in the hands of the deceased's solicitor and was subsequently lost in the post. Producing sufficient evidence in cases of a will that is lost is typically not easy. The executor is facing the difficult task of proving the intentions of someone who has passed away.

Just because a will that is lost is subsequently recovered or a copy is proved does not automatically mean it will be legally enforceable. There are any number of reasons why a will could be held invalid. Should you believe you have reason to contest a will, it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible. The law places limits on the amount of time you have to challenge a will. You should seek the immediate advice of a qualified solicitor.

In the majority of cases, a person contesting a will is someone who is unhappy that they were not named as a beneficiary. Not everyone contesting a will has equal chances of success. A deceased's dependents, were they not provided for in the will, do have a very good chance of bringing a successful claim. The law entitles those dependents to continued support, even after the testator's death.

Other grounds for challenging a will include improper execution, such as a lack of proper witnesses. Another way to contest a will is to show that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making the will and did not understand the meaning of the document.

Our solicitors take cases on a no win no fee basis. If we do not win your case, you pay absolutely no legal fees or expenses of any kind. Our solicitors are qualified to handle cases involving lost wills, including proving a copy of the original. Contact us today for free legal advice about your case. Simply fill out the contact form on this website or phone us on our helpline. There is no charge for the consultation, and you are under no further obligations.

HELPLINE 0845 190 8346