Lost Will procedure
Published by a LexisNexis Private Client expert
Last updated on 30/11/2021

The following Private Client practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Lost Will procedure
  • The Will cannot be found
  • The application for the order
  • The affidavit or witness statement supporting the application
  • Lost Will
  • Lost Will where copy of signed Will available
  • Lost Will where draft (but no copy) available
  • Lost Will where no copy or draft available
  • Reconstruction
  • Original Will held by foreign court or notary
  • More...

Lost Will procedure

The Will cannot be found

Where the deceased’s next of kin or the personal representatives (PRs) believe that the deceased had made a Will but it cannot be found among the deceased's papers nor a reference to its location found in the deceased’s emails , various enquiries and searches should be considered:

  1. enquiries of the deceased's family and friends

  2. enquiries of the deceased's professional advisors

  3. enquiries of the deceased's bankers or safe deposit box keeper

  4. search of the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Probate Service to see if the deceased’s Will was deposited there

  5. search of the Certainty National Will Register to see if the Will is registered there

  6. placement of an advert for the Will in the Law Society Gazette

For further information, see Practice Note: Obtaining the Will.

The application for the order

If the original Will or codicil still cannot be found and is understood to be lost or has been accidentally destroyed or was found but has been lost since the deceased’s death, probate of a draft, copy or reconstruction of the Will or codicil may be obtained provided an order for leave to prove it is first obtained.

The procedure for the order is set out in rule 54 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 (NCPR 1987), SI 1987/2024. The same procedure is used where probate of an oral (or nuncupative) Will

Related documents:
Key definition:
Personal representatives definition
What does Personal representatives mean?

In relation to a person who has died, this means (in the UK) persons responsible for administering the estate of the deceased.

Popular documents