On 11th January 2012, we received a letter from an executor asking us to certify a photocopied Will as the family were unable to locate the original Will and hoped that we certify for them to apply for Probate. Upon checking our records, we found out that the original Will had been retrieved. The testator opted for immediate retrieval of his Will after signing the Will in 2003 to avoid payment of further annual fee.
Under the law, a person who is qualified to certify shall not certify a true copy of a photocopy document without sighting the original document as it is a serious offence if the original surfaced later and was found to be different from that certified. As we did not have the original Will in our possession, we replied that we were unable to comply with the family’s request.
On 19th January, the executor came back to us again, this time with a letter from a Law Firm, also requesting for a certified true copy of the Will. The request was again declined.
On 20th January, the law firm acting for the executor for the Probate of the deceased requested for our documents to prove the Will was retrieved by the deceased. With our proper records, we provided them with the retrieval documents signed by the testator.
During this period, we received numerous threatening calls from the family members and even the law firm, questioning on this. We stood firm on this issue because this is against the Law and we do not want to damage our reputation built over 16 years. Finally the executor and family members accepted our decision and decided to try their luck by applying for Probate using the photocopy of Will.
The above scenario is based on a true story that happened to an unlucky family where the family members were unable to locate the original Will which was retrieved many years back. If the photocopy is not accepted as evidence, then the estate has to be handled through the application of a letter of administration which delays the process considerably. It also means that the distribution will not follow the final wishes of the testator although he had made a big step in writing a Will earlier. This situation could have been prevented altogether if the testator had kept his Will with us continuously.
This is why we have always stressed to all our PEPs and clients that the Will is an important legal document and the Original Will needs to be kept carefully and securely but easily located when it is needed. Keeping the instrument at Rockwills Custody Centre will ensure the objective of writing the Will and instructions can be carried out.
Based on the above and many other similar incidents, we would again like to stress to all our PEPs that no matter what the clients may say, please advise your clients and strongly recommend our Will Custody service. As Professionals, it is your duty to ensure their wishes can be fulfilled. There is no need then to carry the guilt with you when facing the beneficiaries because their “Final Wishes” cannot be achieved.
Remember; “A lost Will is as good as having no Will at all.”
Author : Charlie from Rockwills (firstname.lastname@example.org)