Plea for wills information

The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is urging the establishment of a Central Wills Registry where all wills, irrespective of how they are drawn up, will be registered and checked for validity.

ILEX is seeking examples of cases where a Central Wills Registry would have made certain that the deceased's wishes were indeed carried out.

Are any readers aware of cases where:

* There was some doubt that the will proved for probate was indeed the last will and testament?

* There was a situation where a relative or friend had the opportunity to destroy a will that was found when sorting the deceased's papers?

* The intentions of the deceased were defeated because of a procedural inaccuracy?

One case that has come to our notice was a gentleman living alone, who had never, to his relations' knowledge, visited a solicitor. A substantial sum was distributed to his relatives on his death.

However, the gentleman had, in fact, made a will leaving all his wealth to a children's charity. It was only by chance that the solicitor with whom he had lodged his will heard about his death.

The charity got the money eventually, but it only by pure luck.

ILEX would also like to know how often there is uncertainty about the existence of a will, which necessitates placing the usual adverts, and whether this is a source of delay and inconvenience to firms and potential beneficiaries.

Anyone who has details of similar or other cases are invited to contact ILEX at Kempston Manor, Kempston, Bedford MK42 7AB or telephone on (01234) 841000 or fax on (01234) 841999. Confidentiality would be maintained.

David March, Chairman of Law Reform, Institute of Legal Executives