The importance of storing Wills securely was emphasised in a recent court case, which involved a dispute as to whether a Will made in 1982 had been revoked (was no longer valid) by a home-made Will drawn up in 1999. The original of the Will made in 1982 could not be located, although evidence pointed to this Will last being requested by the clients from her solicitors who had been storing it.
When a Will is last traced to the testator’s possession and can not be located at his or her death after all reasonable searches and enquiries have been undertaken, it is presumed that the testator intended to destroy the will with the intention that it was no longer valid.
In this court case, and by considering the relevant evidence, this presumption was not followed and the court held the original Will drawn up in 1982 had been lost rather than destroyed.
However, had the court decided that the Will had been destroyed rather than lost, and because the subsequent Will was also found to be invalid having not been properly signed, then the testator would have died without a valid Will and thus the rules of intestacy would have applied to her estate.
The lessons to be learned from this case are that the inability to locate an original Will may have serious consequences. Safely storing a will is therefore of high importance. Howell Jones offer its clients the options of storing their wills with us.
If you would like further information please contact one of our Wills and Probate lawyers.