The National Will Register
There are now over 9.4 million wills registered in the National Will Register system.
Registering your clients’ wills on the National Will Register protects the testator, executors and beneficiaries as it ensures the will can be located upon death. Will Registration records the existence and location of where the will is stored.
98% of law firms suffer from lost probate work, because upon the death of the testator, the executors, beneficiaries and family members are unaware of the specific law firm that stores the will.
Will Registration is conclusively proven to increase the chance of the firm receiving the probate work from the wills they have written, as the firm can be found as the holder of the will.
The National Will Register does not disclose the existence of a will, it provides a searcher's details to the firm who registered the will. This allows the law firm to verify entitlement and authenticity of the enquiring searcher (for example, sight of death certificate and validate identity of the searcher).
Certainty Will Search
Two in 10 Certainty Will Searches identify an unknown will, typically a will thought or claimed never to have been written, or a will that revokes the will the executor and/or solicitor distributing the estate considered to be the last will.
A Certainty Will Search checks the register and also searches for wills that have not been registered by non-member solicitors and will writers nationally in geographical targeted areas using its REACH Will Search technology.
Undertaking a Certainty Will Search provides the executor, administrator and law firm with a Will Search Report demonstrating that a legally endorsed and accredited process was undertaken to prove the last Will being used for probate or that steps were made to disprove intestacy.
When somebody conducts a will search, the National Will Register alerts you (the firm that’s holding the will) so that you can validate the searcher’s identity and, if appropriate, disclose the existence of a will to them. This means your law firm is more likely to receive the probate work from the wills you’ve written.
The National Will Register gives the executor, administrator and law firm peace of mind and protects law firms against negligence claims.
It costs from £38 +VAT to conduct a will search to check the register. The cost is an allowable disbursement to the estate.
Certainty Will Search – Court of Protection
You can search for the will of a testator who is still alive but has lost capacity. This search is used by deputies or attorneys who have a duty to act in the ‘best interest’ of the donor or patient.
The SRA Ethics Guidance, drafted in conjunction with and approved by, the Court of Protection (CoP), Office of the Public Guardian, Legal Ombudsman, the Law Society, and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, also states that the will forms part of the financial affairs belonging to the donor and highlights scenarios of possible adverse outcomes which can occur without knowing the contents of the will.
The Official Solicitor also recommends that a Will Search be conducted, in appropriate cases, by statutory will applicants, in order to establish the existence of any unknown will(s) and to be satisfied that the will presented is the last will of the living testator.
The National Will Register plays a crucial role in the work of those involved in applying for statutory wills, or who need to expedite their property and affairs, and welfare deputy and attorney responsibilities with the utmost due diligence.
As a deputy or attorney, you can conduct a Certainty Will Search via the National Will Register and the Official Solicitor website.
Certainty Will Search – contentious probate
There is a great weight of evidence from contentious probate specialists that a Certainty Will Search can and does change the outcome of a potential dispute case.
It is crucial to conduct a will search at the start of a potential dispute to understand if you are dealing with a case based on the last will and the historic content of any previous wills.
It can also assist in understanding whether the client that instructed you actually is in a position to proceed with a case by discovering any unknown wills.
A Certainty Will Search can identify potential contentious probate work by:
- proving the last will being used to dispute the estate
- finding potentially later unknown wills to assist the case
- helping to confirm the client’s assumed position based on the will they have presented or if a will is believed not to exist
A Certainty Will Search helps to establish potential cases for contentious probate specialists and provides reassurance that the last will, and any previous wills, have been located for the existing dispute.
Certainty will management and marketing
Member firms of the National Will Register can access TOUCH, a will management system with integrated marketing functionality. TOUCH can help you make the most of commercial opportunities by generating new business and strengthening and reignite your relationship with existing clients.
“At Roche Legal, we use Certainty to register all valid wills that we store – whether we wrote them or not – at no cost to our clients. We do this to provide clients with peace of mind that their will can be found in future, if their loved ones do not find the copies they hold at home and/or cannot remember where the wills were drafted or stored. Being able to undertake a Will Search for a loved one’s will means that families will always be able to locate the wills we store here at Roche Legal.”
Melanie Pickering, solicitor, Roche Legal
“As a result of our archived wills being registered with the National Will Register, we were notified of a match from a Certainty Will Search and received the valuable probate work.”
Graeme Black, director and head of the probate department, Bonnets Solicitors
“By registering wills with the National Will Register, it provides long term certainty that wills can be found and ensures a person’s wishes regarding how their estate is distributed are fulfilled.”
Ann Donnelly, director, QualitySolicitors Moore & Tibbits