We were approached by Mr Vine in relation to the estate of his lifelong friend Mr Edgar.
Mr Edgar was widowed and had been estranged from his only child for over 35 years. Mr Vine had cared for and been very close with Mr Edgar for a long time and in addition, Mr Vine’s children were like children to Mr Edgar and had grown up knowing him as a very close family friend.
Mr Edgar decided to make a Will with a well-known online Will writing service provider and trusted them to complete the process in a correct and lawful way. Mr Edgar then sadly died a couple of years later and Mr Vine who was aware that he was appointed as the Executor could not find Mr Edgar’s Will.
Mr Vine contacted Boyletts Law as he was concerned as to what to do about his friend’s Estate. We advised Mr Vine to contact the will writing company to see if they were storing the original Will and if not, for them to provide a photocopy of the signed Will and we could attempt to make an application for the Grant of Probate on this basis.
Mr Vine contacted the will writing company and they said that they were unable to locate the original Will of the Late Mr Edgar and that they did not retain signed copies on their file. The only information that the will writing company had was a copy of the draft Will which was unsigned and undated and in addition, their file was just a sheet of paper with a completed questionnaire and no detail regarding the deceased’s intentions or capacity.
Mr Vine was deeply distressed by this as without a valid Will in place, or a copy of a correctly executed Will or even a file showing comprehensive notes of the deceased’s intention, it would not be possible for Mr Vine to deal with his friend’s Estate and further, he had no legal authority to protect his late friend’s property and assets. The only person with the lawful authority under the Rules of Intestacy would be the deceased’s daughter who did not live in the UK and had not seen her father for over 30 years.
The result in this case was that the deceased’s Estate was dealt with by a legal representative in the UK on behalf of the daughter who lived abroad and the late Mr Edgar’s estate in its entirety will pass to the child, to whom the deceased did not wish to leave any benefit.
We are in talks with the child on behalf of Mr Vine to see if they can reach a settlement with regard to the distribution of the Estate, but the entire matter has proven extremely upsetting and distressing for our client.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to do background checks on firms who claim to be able to write your Will. In addition to the technical ability required to draft a lawful Will in your best interests and to provide for your beneficiaries in the way that you want them to, it is also important that the firm you instruct provides you with the appropriate after care. A regulated law firm will not only retain the signed copy of your Will, but they will also hold a photocopy of your signed Will both on a paper file and stored electronically as well as a comprehensive file showing detailed notes of your instructions, which are further confirmed in correspondence.
All this attention to detail means that should there be any issues with your Will or your Estate in the future, your Executors will be able to obtain all information to fulfil the Court’s requirements to prove your documents in a lawful and efficient manner and in a way which honours your wishes and protects your loved ones.