On more frequent occasions than one might imagine the situation of a lost will arises. The document that is normally used to obtain a Grant of Probate is the original signed and witnessed document however it is possible in certain circumstances for a lost will solicitor to prove a copy. The reasons for missing wills are many and various, it may be that an original is lodged with an unknown solicitor or is in a bank vault. There are occasions where the testator may have physically destroyed the original with the intention of revoking it or a disgruntled relative who came upon the will first may have destroyed it in the hope that an earlier more favourable will can take precedence or that the intestacy rules will put them in a more advantageous position than the destroyed will.


A lost will can lead to difficult events because depending on which copy is deemed to be the right and valid one, certain beneficiaries may then lose out. For example, the deceased might have made a will and then changed it for some reason, cutting out some of the people who would have benefited from the first one.


Now let us suppose that a later original will goes missing. The executor may try to prove that the second will was the valid one by obtaining probate on a copy, but those people who were cut out in that second will would want to prove the opposite by obtaining probate based on the first will.


In order to prove a copy of a lost will in the Probate Registry it will be necessary to produce evidence that shows that the will was not deliberately destroyed by the testator. A recent successful claim to prove a copy was successful as the original was last in the hands of a solicitor following which it was lost in the post. These cut and dried cases are rare and a potential executor should not expect proof of a copy to be an easy or straight forward task.


Another possibility of an alleged missing document is that it is not a case of a will that is lost, but the will was intentionally destroyed by the testator. Deliberate physical destruction by the testator or at the testator’s instructions is a means of revoking a will, such as by burning or tearing up the document. Lost wills, unfortunately, can quickly lead to litigation. For instance, suppose the deceased had two wills. The first will named Jane as a beneficiary, but the second will did not. A second valid will usually contains a clause that revokes the first will. Jane will no longer receive anything when the testator dies. However, what happens if that second will, the one that does not include Jane, is lost? The proposed executor will attempt to prove a copy of the will, but Jane may want to challenge it. She could argue that the second will is not a will that is lost but was intentionally destroyed by the testator and that the first will is the valid one. Such scenarios are played out in Probate Registries across the UK every day.

Invalid Wills

Just because a will that is lost is subsequently recovered or a copy is proved does not automatically mean it will be legally enforceable. There are any number of reasons why a will could be held invalid. Should you believe you have reason to contest a will, it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible. The law places limits on the amount of time you have to challenge a will. You should seek the immediate advice of a qualified solicitor.

In the majority of cases, a person contesting a will is someone who is unhappy that they were not named as a beneficiary. Not everyone contesting a will has equal chances of success. A deceased's dependents, were they not provided for in the will, do have a very good chance of bringing a successful claim. The law entitles those dependents to continued support, even after the testator's death.

Other grounds for challenging a will include improper execution, such as a lack of proper witnesses. Another way to contest a will is to show that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of making the will and did not understand the meaning of the document.

Lost Will Solicitors

Our lost will solicitors have extensive experience in proving misplaced will claims and of contesting claims to prove a copy. There may be many different reasons for contesting, but regardless of what the reason might be you can rest assured that our experts can advise you on your own particular situation. Our solicitors take cases on a no win no fee basis. If we do not win your case, you pay absolutely no legal fees or expenses of any kind. Our solicitors are qualified to handle cases involving lost wills, including proving a copy of the original. Contact us today for free legal advice about your case. Simply fill out the contact form on this website or phone us on our helpline. There is no charge for the consultation, and you are under no further obligations.