Earlier this year it was revealed that Lloyds Bank found a significant number of documents in its ‘Safe Custody’ storage service, including around 9,000 wills. The storage facility was apparently closed to new customers in 2011 but this year the bank discovered thousands of papers were still stored there.
Anyone who has applied for a Grant of Probate will know the application is made on the basis of the deceased’s last will. Therefore, this discovery could cause significant problems if an estate has already been administered and it transpires Lloyds were holding a later will.
As it is hoped individuals will have been advised to review their wills regularly and the facility operated by Lloyds was closed in 2011, many of the wills held may have been superseded by later ones. However, where this is not the case, executors and families may be faced with the prospect that an estate has been administered incorrectly. There is also the possibility, of course, that an estate has been administered on the basis the deceased died intestate, i.e., without a will.
Where a Grant of Probate has been issued and a later will is subsequently located, provided the Executors have acted in good faith, the original Grant may be revoked by a District Judge or Registrar on application. However, if the estate has already been distributed incorrectly, the Executors could still face the prospect of trying to recover property from the unintended recipients and this is something that could prove extremely difficult, or perhaps even impossible in some cases. The identity of the Executors may also differ between the Wills.
The situation that has arisen at Lloyds Bank demonstrates the importance that should be placed on the storage of wills and being able to locate them on someone’s death. Placing wills in a safe deposit box at a bank is not advisable as the bank cannot open it until they have sight of the Grant of Probate and the Grant of Probate cannot be obtained without the will. It is important to tell your Executors where your will is stored so they know where to locate it after your death.
We offer to store all wills we write at no cost to the client. In addition, Certainty the National Will Register, who are endorsed by the Law Society, provide a national will registration service and we register all wills we prepare with this service free of charge.
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