What's lurking at the back of your cupboards???

Thursday 9th June 2022

A can of unidentifiable soup from the 70’s, jeans that haven’t been in fashion for over 20 years or your partner’s Will!

Whilst we all have things we like to never see again (I’m thinking about those jeans) making sure you have the most up to date Will of someone is always worth checking.

One day I received a telephone call from a client, he was moving house and had been sorting out some cupboards and had found his partner’s original Will.

He was aware that his partner had made a Will but when they died had not been able to find it. He assumed as his partner had been suffering from dementia he had destroyed it especially as they had become increasingly paranoid before their death.

He applied for Letters of Administration which had been issued and he had inherited the whole estate under the rules of intestacy.

Unfortunately, when I examined the Will I had to advise him he was not the sole beneficiary of the estate. The Will had made provision for his partner’s share of the property to be place into trust and whilst the proceeds of sale could be used to purchase a new property but any surplus was to be given to the children.

The Will also appointed his children as his co-executors and I confirmed that we would need to request that the Letters of Administration be revoked and a new Grant issued. This would involve statements being provide by him and completing a paper application to the Probate Registry.

Eventually after 5 months we did get a Grant but this came at a cost. There were numerous threats from the conveyancing chain that it would collapse and two prospective purchasers pulled out (luckily to be replaced relatively quickly).

I lost count of the emails I had to send to the Probate registry asking for a response and my client had more than one sleepless night!

To avoid these situations in the future we now register all our new Wills on the National Wills Register and I recommend to all new clients who are dealing with estates that they search the database. It is growing every day and there are more and more instances where it highlights a Will which had long been forgotten.

And perhaps most importantly remember to check those cupboards you never know what might be in there.

Jessica Bird