The following Practice Compliance guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
It is good practice to assess the risk profile of different types of work. Key risks in relation to probate work include:
not proving the most recent valid will
distributing the estate under an intestacy, where a will exists but adequate steps have not been taken to find it
Negligence can also arise if you fail to make the beneficiaries or administrators/executors aware of their options to check that they are distributing the correct will. This is especially important when family members suggest that the deceased died intestate.
If it appears a will does not exist you should:
check that all the deceased's papers and personal effects have been thoroughly searched for a will and there is no documentation relating to a will or its whereabouts
make enquiries of the deceased’s family and friends
check that the deceased did not have any particular connection with a specific charity—they may have left a will with the assistance of the charity
obtain confirmation in writing from all the deceased’s bank or building societies that they do not hold a will
check whether the deceased ever told friends or family that they made a will or used a solicitor
make enquiries of the deceased’s bankers
consider a search of the safe custody wills register
consider placing an advertisement for the will in the Law Society Gazette
consider searching the Certainty National Will Register
make enquiries of solicitors in the areas where the testator was most likely to have made their will, eg where they worked or lived—you can do
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