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Solicitor won’t give me Dad’s will

(35 Posts)
AlexaAmbidextra Thu 09-Aug-18 16:54:44

My parents made wills around twelve years ago and at the solicitor’s advice, put them into solicitor’s storage facility. Both parents had me, only child and sole beneficiary, as executor together with a good friend of my Mum’s. They only did this in the belief it would be easier for me. Mum died ten years ago and my Dad has just died.

I’ve applied for probate under the new online system stating that I am the sole applicant and I’m now required to send the Probate Registry the original will and death certificate. The problem is the solicitor who has the will won’t hand it over to me as there is a co-executor named.

I lost touch with this person years ago. The phone number I have for her is unobtainable and I’ve written to her and received no reply. The solicitor tells me that I now have to trawl social media, the Land Registry and the Electoral Role in an attempt to find her before they will hand over the original will.

I wish I’d kept the damn thing under my mattress and avoided this farce. Any guidance would be very welcome. Can they actually do this?

AlexaAmbidextra Thu 09-Aug-18 16:56:16

Sorry - Electoral Roll.

Hizz Thu 09-Aug-18 17:00:07

Not sure if it would help but would they give you a notorised copy?
I wonder whether they are angling for the work. You don't need a solicitor unless the estate is complicated but they might be willing to apply for probate for you?
Perhaps ask the probate office as they are usually quite helpful.

tickingthebox Thu 09-Aug-18 17:00:45

Can you ask them to give you a copy as executor? Or to view the will?

AlexaAmbidextra Thu 09-Aug-18 17:15:08

I have a copy so I know exactly what it says. I get everything. It’s the original they won’t let me have. I don’t need them to apply for probate as it’s a straightforward estate. I just wonder where we stand legally on this. After all, it wasn’t a legal requirement for them to store the will so I just don’t see how they can keep it from me.

HoleyCoMoley Thu 09-Aug-18 20:02:53

Does your household insurance have a legal helpline you could call or speak to the law society, or whoever it is deals with regulating solicitors. Maybe the co executor has died, can you look up death records for where they live or contact that local registrar office. If you have a copy then I can't see why they won't give you the original, is it their property to keep. Why would they need to keep an original.

ajandjjmum Thu 09-Aug-18 20:08:35

The solicitor's behaviour sounds dodgy to me. I would speak to the Law Society to ask if they are allowed to with-hold a Will from an executor.

HoleyCoMoley Thu 09-Aug-18 20:11:06

If you no longer need their services to deal with the Estate or for Probate then you should ask ofmthe Will is legally theirs to keep, maybe it is also part of the Estate. I agree it sounds very dodgy.

angelichosts Thu 09-Aug-18 20:25:48

When my Mum, sister and I were executors of my Gran's will, all 3 of us had to present ID at the solicitor's office who held the will. I think this is pretty standard practise I'm afraid.

You would need to show you have made every effort to find the other executor to get probate I think anyhow. Time to get trawling.

AlexaAmbidextra Thu 09-Aug-18 21:02:41

Thank you for your responses. I’ve been trawling all evening and come up with nothing. 🙁

Spickle Thu 09-Aug-18 23:08:31

Not dodgy at all. The solicitor merely requires the other executor to confirm that the solicitor can release the Will to you. I had to do this when my ex-MIL died. I think you will have to try and make contact with this friend of your mum's via social media, land registry, advertisements etc and if you don't have any luck tracing the friend, maybe the solicitor will release the Will to you following evidence that you have exhausted all avenues in order to find this person.

AlexaAmbidextra Fri 10-Aug-18 14:41:39

This goes from bad to worse. Spent the whole of yesterday evening trying to track down co-executor via the internet. Managed to ascertain via Rightmove that the last address I had for her had been sold in 2015 so now I know she lives elsewhere. But where, I have no idea. Spoke to solicitors again who suggested I put an ad in the paper! What fucking paper would that be? She could be living anywhere in the UK, or even overseas. I am tearing my hair out.

mummmy2017 Fri 10-Aug-18 14:44:43

Contact the old address, they may know where she went.

NicoAndTheNiners Fri 10-Aug-18 14:46:46

Can you find out which estate agents sold the last known property, they may know from their records and pass a letter on.

ArnoldBee Fri 10-Aug-18 14:51:47

You also have to inform the other executor in writing that you have applied for probate.

HollowTalk Fri 10-Aug-18 14:53:00

That's a good idea about the estate agents. I have seen adverts in the newspaper but always thought it was for beneficiaries.

HollowTalk Fri 10-Aug-18 14:53:28

I'm so sorry - I should have said how sorry I was that you lost your parents.


OurMiracle1106 Fri 10-Aug-18 14:54:34

It may be worth checking whether she is even still alive if she was a friend of your mums her house may have been sold due to death? Horrid to think I know but possible hence not being able to find her.

AlbertaSimmons Fri 10-Aug-18 14:56:49

Aren't they asking you to show that you have made efforts to find her, rather than to actually find her? You could place an ad in the local paper of the last known address and that may well suffice.

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Fri 10-Aug-18 14:57:40

It doesn't sound like you have agreed a process with the solicitors? If I were you, I would get them to agree that if you e.g. put an ad in a national newspaper and there is no communication within 2 weeks that you have made every reasonable effort and that at that point they have to release the will. Get their agreement in writing.

AlexaAmbidextra Fri 10-Aug-18 15:08:16

ArnoldBee. I have tried to advise her in writing. It was the first thing I did, to send a letter to the last address I had for her, only to subsequently discover that she no longer lived there. Thank you all for your suggestions. I think to contact the current occupants and also the estate agents if I can find them would be the way forward. I just have this awful nightmare that I’ll never find her and never be able to obtain probate!

I’m hardly trying to diddle anyone out of their inheritance as I’m the sole beneficiary. 🙄

Hizz Fri 10-Aug-18 15:14:59

I wonder whether the solicitors just want evidence to cover their backs, rather than a genuine search? An additional in the paper local to her last known address might have no hope of finding her but would tick the box?

Hizz Fri 10-Aug-18 15:15:29

Ad not additional....

ArnoldBee Fri 10-Aug-18 15:18:18

I know how hard it all is as just done it myself and i appreciate it's difficult however if the legal stuff isn't followed it can cause issues and the in writing to the other executor is a stipulation of the probate form. Has she any family on social media?

MrsSteptoe Fri 10-Aug-18 15:23:31

Isn't your bigger problem that without the co-executor's signature , you won't be able to take ownership of any of the assets in the will? Forgive me if that's a naive question.

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