Members of the public have until Thursday 18 June to register their Will for free on The National Will Register. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand for Will writing has vastly increased. It was reported by The Law Society, the independent professional body for Solicitors in England and Wales, that there has been a 30 per cent increase in the demand for writing Wills since the outbreak began. The Coronavirus has prompted many members of the public to either review their current Will or to contact a solicitor or Will writing professional to write a Will for the first time.
Part of the process of writing a Will is to ensure it can be quickly located following a death. Therefore, when writing your Will, you should also register it with The National Will Register.
The National Will Register is endorsed by The Law Society of England & Wales and was set-up over a decade ago to help ensure that after a death a Will, and the last version of it, can be found. Today over 8.6 million Wills are now in the registration system. This means that after someone dies and before probate is granted, a Will can be located for a loved one by a person named in the Will (the executors and beneficiaries). Many hundreds of thousands of Wills registered in 2019 which has contributed to the 8.6 million Will registrations that are now in the system. In line with the current increase in the demand for Will writing, there has also been an increase in Will registrations.
Being able to locate a Will quickly after a death removes the additional emotional turmoil the family can face hunting through their loved one’s possessions. If they do find a copy of a Will, they then have to work out if it is indeed the last Will written and will need to understand where the original is stored, as the original document will be required to distribute the estate. This can be very distressing and create unnecessary uncertainty at a difficult time.
When it’s time to distribute the estate, the responsibility lies with the executor to distribute the estate correctly, a process more commonly known as ‘probate’. The executor is financially liable for any errors made during distribution. It is therefore absolutely imperative that the executors can locate the Will and distribute the assets in line with the Will.