How to locate a Will

If you find yourself in the situation of losing a loved one suddenly, or unexpectedly discover you have been appointed as an Executor of an Estate, you may struggle to know how to locate the Will, or indeed, whether one exists at all. It can make a difficult time even more stressful. Leah Chenoweth from Penderlaw Solicitors gives some pointers on how to find out if a person has a Will, and if they do, where it is likely to be.

There are a number of ways to go about finding a Will, from informal enquires such as asking friends and family, to searching the house and contacting their bank and GP practice, through to searches of Will databases with various organisations such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority and Probate Registry.  

1. Searching the house
It may sound obvious but is usually the first port of call.  If you are an Executor but not family, make sure you get permission from the family, or you could be trespassing if you go into the property without permission.  Sometimes people keep copies of their Will at home, or information about where their original Will is held. Sometimes the original is even found at home!

2. Solicitors
Contact the firm of solicitors where you may have found paperwork.

3. Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
All firms of solicitors have to be registered with the SRA by law in the UK.  They keep a record of individual solicitors as well as firms.  This enables them to trace any firms which may have been bought out or merged with other firms over the years. This means that they will be able to help you find out who to contact in order to get hold of a Will which was previously held by another firm. The Will will have been kept safe and can be made available to an Executor.

4. The Law Society
The Law Society have branches across the country and can help with tracing Wills. You can ask your local branch to send an email to their members to see whether firms of solicitors in the area have a Will by the name of the deceased in their strongrooms.   This can be a cost-effective way of searching a large number of solicitors in a particular area.

5. Family and friends
Speaking to family and friends may throw some light as to the location of the Will, even if each conversation only gives you a small piece of the jigsaw.

6. The National Will Register
You could also search for the Will on the National Will Register.  There will be a fee to do this and not every Will is registered this way, so a search is unfortunately not conclusive, but worth a try at least.

7. The Probate Registry
The Probate Registry offer a storage service for Wills so if you are searching for a Will, it is a good idea to approach them to see if the Will you are looking for is held by them.

8. GP Surgery
The deceased’s GP surgery may be able to tell you of anyone who is an attorney for the deceased and if so, they may be able to help you locate the Will.

9. Banks
A bank may be a possible location of the Will as they sometimes offer to draft Wills for their customers or can be appointed as an Executor for the Will.  They may also simply be used as a place to store the Will.

If the Will cannot be found
If a Will still cannot be found, the person’s Estate will have to be dealt with as Intestate. When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, their property (the Estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy.

Get in touch
If you would like advice relating to an Estate, our experienced team would be pleased to hear from you.  You can contact us on 01872 241408 or email