Proving a Copy Will

For an estate to be administered in accordance with the terms of the final Will of the deceased, the original Will is sent to the Probate Registry who will then issue a Grant of Probate to the executors.

But what if the original Will cannot be found?

It may be lost. The deceased may have recently moved. A storage box may have gone missing. A third party may have been given the Will for safekeeping, but the keeper has lost or mislaid it. Or it might simply have gone missing in the post, or been incorrectly filed by a storage provider.

There may be circumstances which suggest it has been destroyed and it is unlikely the original will ever be found, such as a fire, flood or burglary.

 In all these cases you can apply to Probate to prove a Copy Will.

Obtaining a Grant of Probate with a Copy Will is not simple however, and it is recommended that an executor seeking to do this takes specialist legal advice. The application must be supported by an affidavit containing all the relevant evidence concerning the missing document.

The affidavit should include the following information:

  • Evidence that the copy is a true and complete copy of the original
  • Evidence that the Will was properly executed
  • As much detail as possible on the circumstances in which the Will was lost or destroyed
  • Agreement from everyone who will be prejudiced if the Copy Will is proved
  • Facts to rebut the presumption that the Will had been revoked, e.g. statements from the witnesses, statements made to intended heirs, the words and actions of the deceased before their death
  • The actual copy of the Will (not a copy of a copy)

In every case, proving a Copy Will is made easier by having the best possible copy - a WillScan copy - taken by the will writer or solicitor at the point of signing, and held by an independent professional third party in a tamper-proof archive in a highly secure UK data centre.

 

Legal Guidance

Rule 54 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 

54 (4) The registrar may require additional evidence in the circumstances of a particular case as to due execution of the will or as to the accuracy of the copy will, and may direct that notice be given to persons who would be prejudiced by the application

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