The importance of a Will search

Tracing heirs to an estate can sometimes be problematic. Whether a Will names someone who cannot be traced, or an intestate case is flagged after someone dies, it is imperative to ensure the estate is distributed to the rightful heirs. It is rewarding when the entire family has been traced and the next-of-kin have heard that they could be in line for a windfall. At times however, these efforts could be in vain if a Will is later discovered, naming entirely different beneficiaries. Therefore, in order to save time and money, a Will Search is necessary.

Fraser and Fraser’s Will Search Service

Fraser and Fraser have developed a thorough and comprehensive Will Search Service to help you feel safe and secure in trusted hands. For over 90 years the company have been recognised by Public Trustees, solicitors and various probate courts as experts in probate research, growing to become one of the world’s largest firms of professional genealogists and international probate researchers.

Considering both registered and unregistered Wills, it is vital to use a variety of search techniques, both for intestate cases to determine whether there is a Will at all, and testate cases to determine whether there is a more recent Will. Fraser and Fraser recognise that each case is unique and as such provide a tailored service for each client that includes offering the most appropriate probate insurance packages.

The Will Search is based on the last known address and up to two previous addresses of the deceased and incorporates a Certainty search, which includes checking the seven million records held on the Certainty National Will Register, placement of the details on the Missing Will Noticeboard and a REACH search for unregistered Wills. The Fraser and Fraser Will Search also covers local Will writers, who are members of the Institute of Professional Will Writers and/or The Society of Will Writers, and we also check with the Probate Registry of the Family Division to investigate whether they are holding a Will on their Safe Custody Register.

At Fraser and Fraser we pride ourselves on conducting thorough investigations to ensure we deliver the right outcome for our clients.

A Will search in practice

In the case of Margaret Snowden*, a Will Search discovered that a case originally thought to be a intestacy was in fact quite the opposite. Margaret was born in 1933 in Godalming, Surrey, where she spent most of her life. At the age of 22, Margaret married Samuel Snowden*, a lorry driver who travelled far to keep the family afloat. A year after their wedding, their daughter Sarah Jane* was born in 1956. The couple had only one child because unfortunately their marriage did not last.

When Margaret was almost 40, she remarried 46-year-old William Thompson* in 1972. Thomas quickly adopted Sarah Jane but sadly in less than two years the marriage dissolved.
When Margaret died aged 78 she had suffered from dementia for a number of years. She spent her last days in a care home in Farnham, Surrey, just over a 20 minute drive from where she was born. It was thought she had died without leaving a Will.

The Fraser and Fraser team began searching for Margaret’s beneficiaries and it wasn’t long before it became clear that Margaret’s daughter, Sarah Jane, was her closest living next-of-kin and entitled to the estate. But, to ensure the correct beneficiaries received their inheritance, the firm completed an extensive Will Search and discovered a Will had been written, naming Margaret’s mother and daughter as the beneficiaries.

Since her mother had already died and with just one executor alive, the discovery concluded this was a partial intestacy case. Although the beneficiary was the same as the one mentioned in the Will, not all cases are alike. If the Will was invalid or if a more valid Will was found after the estate was distributed, beneficiaries may change entirely, therefore, a Will Search is a crucial component of the estate administration process. Fraser and Fraser were successful in working with Margaret’s next-of-kin until the estate was distributed.

If you would benefit from Fraser and Fraser’s Will Search Service please contact us. Call us on 020 7832 1430 to discuss your requirements, or email us at

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.
NB: There is no compulsory registration system for Wills in the UK.



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