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Difference Between Registered Will and Unregistered Will

Preparing a Will is the single best way to ensure that your estate is handled according to your wishes when you die. 

08 February 2023
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It is also imperative to ensure your Will is always up to date, clearly drafted, legally accurate, and valid to remove the possibility of any confusion or disputes arising. Another extremely useful step to take is to register your Will on the National Will Register. We highly recommend reading our blog on the key points to consider when writing a will so you are aware of all the legal necessities. So what exactly is the difference between a registered Will and an unregistered Will?

What is the National Will Register

The National Will Register is a central database of Wills that ensures your Will can be easily found in the event of your death. It was established in 2006 and now contains the location of over 10 million Wills. The National Will Register states that it exists “to ensure no Will is left unknown or untraced at the time it is needed”. 

Why should you register your Will with the National Will Register?

Having an up-to-date and valid Will is all well and good, but if it cannot be located, it cannot be used by the Executor because, in effect, there is no Will. Registering with the National Will Register gives you the confidence that your latest Will can be found and actioned rather than your estate being distributed according to the ‘rules of intestacy’. The rules of intestacy define how your estate will be handled if you die without a Will, which may well be against your wishes.

According to a survey by the National Will Register, over two-thirds of UK adults say they wouldn’t know where to look to locate their parents’ Wills. Even if a family member knows their recently deceased loved one had a Will, it may be hard to find. This can happen if a Will was written several years ago and stored with a Solicitor, and that Solicitor has either moved or ceased practising. Of course, this should not happen, but in reality, it can and does.

Registration of your Will also guards against intentional suppression. This is because, in some cases, the existence and whereabouts of a Will can sometimes be deliberately hidden by a discontented next of kin. Placing the details of where your Will can be found in the National Will Register means that it can be searched for, located and handled confidentially.

How can I register my Will with the National Will Register?

Using the National Will Register website, you can either register your own Will or register a Will for another person. In either case, a fee of £30 is payable. As part of the registration process, basic details of the testator (the person whose Will is being registered) must be provided in addition to the date of the Will and its exact location – in most cases, it will be safely stored with a Solicitor, Will writer or dedicated Will storage facility. The details of the person registering the Will must also be provided. Once the necessary information has been provided and the correct fee paid, the National Will Register will send a ‘Confirmation and Certificate of Registration’ by email. It is advisable to print this certificate and keep it with any personal documentation. 

Do I need to send a copy of my Will to the National Will Register?

No, the National Will Register will not request a copy of your Will. Rather the database contains details of where to find your Will. As such, the exact contents of your Will will remain confidential to you, the Will writer, and your beneficiaries. 

Do you have to register a will in the UK?

There is no requirement to register a Will with the National Will Register in the UK. Doing so means that you can relax in the knowledge that your Will can be found when it is needed. For more information on what is required when drafting a will, check out our blog.

If a Will is not registered, is it valid?

A Will does not have to be registered with the National Will Register to be valid. For a Will to be valid, the following must apply:

  • The Will must have been drafted so that it can be clearly understood
  • The testator must have entered into the Will without any control or coercion from another person
  • The testator must have known what they were entering into – i.e. they must have had mental capacity, and
  • The Will must be signed

Final words

Registering your Will with the National Will Register is a final piece of the jigsaw when it comes to ensuring that your wishes will be faithfully carried out on your death. If you change the location of your Will, it is important that you make sure the National Will Register is updated to reflect this.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey. We have an experienced team of private client law Solicitors who can assist you with any legal matter relating to your Will, Power of Attorney, and Estate Planning Needs. To make an appointment, please contact us or call us on 01932 840 111.