Home / The Rix & Kay Blog / What happens if you lose your Will?
Helen Cottington

Solicitor - East Sussex (Uckfield)

17th January 2023

We all know how important it is to make a Will and ensure your loved ones are looked after when you pass away. For most people, a Will is made and not reviewed unless circumstances change or the Will needs updating. So what happens if you lose your Will?

Unfortunately, if you lose your Will and there is no evidence that it ever existed, there is a presumption that the testator (i.e. the person who created the Will) revoked the Will and the estate will pass instead in accordance with the intestacy rules. The intestacy rules provide a strict order in which the closest relatives of the deceased will inherit and there is no provision for partners, cohabitees or friends. It is therefore extremely important that the original Will is kept safe to make sure the people you want to inherit actually do.

Is my Will still valid if it is lost?

It is a common misconception (largely due to the number of movies that get this point wrong!) that should the latest version of your Will be lost or destroyed, the previous one will take effect instead. If your new Will has been drafted to revoke any previous Wills, once it has been signed and witnessed, any previous Wills or Codicils will be revoked and will no longer be valid (even if the provisions contained within the previous Will are largely the same). In this scenario, the intestacy rules will again determine who inherits your estate.

If your Will was prepared by a solicitor or other professional and they have a copy of your latest Will on their file, an application can be made to the court for the contents of the copy to be accepted in place of the original Will. However, there is no guarantee that this will be accepted by the court and will not help if a later Will was executed somewhere else.

Tips on keeping your Will safe

There are a number of ways you can keep your Will safe to reduce the risk of losing it in the future.

  1. If your Will is prepared by a solicitor or other professional, you can ask them to store the Will for you at their offices. Rix & Kay have a waterproof and fireproof strongroom that ensures maximum safety of original documents. We are also protected by insurance covering loss or damage of original documents, just in case the worst should happen.
  2. It is usually a good idea to let your executors, family or friends closest to you know where the original document is being stored. You do not need to give them any information as to the contents of the Will, just the location.

Remember, there is no limit on the number of Wills a person can sign during their lifetime. If you lose your Will and still have mental capacity, you can always sign a new one and make sure that Will is stored somewhere safe.

We are here to help

Rix & Kay has a dedicated Wills, Estate Planning and Trusts Team. If you would like have an informal chat about how we can help you make a Will, please do not hesitate to contact Helen Cottington e. helencottington@rixandkay.co.uk or t. 01825 744428. You can also find more guidance on writing Wills in our Blog