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Wills, Probate & Trust

How private is your Will?

Last Will & Testament

Friday, October 22, 2021

The High Court recently ruled that Prince Philip’s Last Will and Testament is to be kept secret for a period of 90 years. This may have you thinking…

Aren’t all Wills kept private?

The short answer, is no. Following a death, once a Grant of Probate has been granted by the Probate Registry, the Will of the deceased becomes public record. This means any person can order a copy of any deceased person’s Will and Grant of Probate online for a small fee. Unless a specific order is made by the Courts, such as in Prince Philip’s case, then your Will does become publicly available.

Who can see my Will whilst I am still alive?

During your lifetime, generally only you as the ‘testator’ have the right to see your Will. The exception to this is if you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place which may authorise your Attorney(s) to access a copy of your Will.

You may consider providing a copy of your Will to family members or executors appointed in your Will for their records. However, you should be cautious about doing this, as you may well decide to change your Will in the future potentially excluding previously mentioned people. This can cause upset and disappointment, but also confusion and difficulties on your death. Your Will is a very personal document and should be kept as private as possible until you pass away.

What should I do instead?

Notwithstanding the risks of providing copies of your Will to other people during your lifetime, it is important that family members and executors are aware that you have a Will and where the original is stored. The easiest way to do this is to have your Will registered with Certainty, The National Will Register, and provide your family members and/or executors with a copy of your registration certificate. This confirms the presence of your Will, without disclosing the contents of your Will, so you are free to change your Will at any point in the future without cause for upset, disappointment or confusion.

Contact us

Speak to the Wills, Probate and Trusts Team at Samuel Phillips Law about your Will and registering it with certainty by calling 0191 232 8451 or emailing privateclient@samuelphillips.co.uk

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