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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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My Fathers original Will cannot be found. I am the eldest

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My Father's original Will cannot be found. I am the eldest of his 3 children. I believe he left everything to my youngest sibling according to the witnesses of his Will. Although I would not have contested his Will, where in fact do I stand therefore in this case?

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

Do have a signed copy?

Do you know who the executors are?

Who witnessed the will?

Do they not know where it is?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I do not have a signed copy but believe my sister does.

Don't know the Executors.

Witnesses were my Aunt and Uncle who believed my Father had lodged the Will with his Bank.

My siblings and I are estranged, but I believe my brother is contesting the copy of the Will.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Received identical email response from you twice although I replied to you.
If your mother is no longer alive and there is no valid will, then the estate passes under the rules of intestacy whereby all the children get the proceeds divided equally.

If there is a signed copy of the will but no one original, it is possible with a statement from the witnesses as to the execution of the will to get a court order for the copy to be taken into account.

Wills can be contested on various grounds such as lack of mental capacity whereby the person did not know what they were doing at the time they made the will or undue pressure by someone else. Mental capacity (lack of) is not difficult to prove from medical records but sometimes undue influence can be problematical.

If your father has not made provisions for members of his family, then those who have been disadvantaged can ring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act.

If there is a will, beneficiaries have no absolute right to see it until such time as it is admitted to probate when they can get a copy from the probate registry.

If your brother contests the validity of the will or the validity of the copy, the proceeds would be divided equally between siblings under the rules of intestacy.

Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
No one has made contact with the two Witnesses, even though my Father died 18 January 2013.So if I understand what you have said, as my brother is definitely trying to contest the Will, it will go to Probate (?) and then be equally divided amongst myself and my two siblings?If it is to be equally divided, do I have to ensure whoever deals with this division, that they know I exist?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Am still awaiting answer to my reply to you please.
Sorry, I was offline.

If your brother successfully contests the will, part of that contesting is to file a caveat at the probate registry which prevents probate being granted and therefore prevents the estate being distributed.

If the contesting is successful then the probate registry will grant him letters of administration (probate) to allow the state to be distributed under the rules of intestacy, equally to all the children. Whoever is dealing with the estate should know who the children are and where they are.

If there is only a copy of the signed will, it is the executors that are going to need to contact the two witnesses, not your brother.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am highly unlikely to be mentioned if my brother is successful in contesting the Will. It is an wful thing to say but my brother I know would deliberately deny my lever living on this earth! What would be the best way therefore to make my presence known as I would never know who the Executors are? Would there be someone I can write to so they know I exist? Thank you.

If your brother is successful in contesting the will, it is dealt with under the terms of intestacy.

Presumably you are not a secret brother and your brother knows of your existence and therefore if he does not give you your proportion of the proceeds, he commits fraud which is a police matter.

You can file a caveat at the probate registry which stops him getting probate while there is a dispute. That is probably what he has done.

Here is a little explanation about caveats
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