Storing your will with a law firm is one of the best ways to ensure it is easily accessible when you or your loved ones need it. However, issues can still arise if the law firm’s circumstances change. Like any business, law firms can move, be acquired or close completely. When this happens, it can make tracking down legal documents that have been stored with them much harder. In this guide, we will explain what happens to wills when a law firm closes, and how you can them, using a local example.

If you are local to Lymington, you may recall Abrahms Collyer Solicitors, who traded on Lymington High Street before being taken over by Bernard Chill & Axtell, and then by Linder Myers. Unfortunately, Linder Myers left the area, taking all of their strong room documents with them. This meant that local clients lost easy access to their documents, in particular wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), should they need them.  Since leaving the area, Linder Myers have now ceased trading, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority divided up their current business and document storage between various firms… in the north of England. Whilst thankfully this is a rare occurrence, and, thanks to the heavy regulation surrounding law firms, documents in such situations are usually perfectly safe and ultimately traceable (unlike with an unregulated will writing business for example) this is still not desperately helpful for clients based in and around the New Forest!

Do you need the original will for probate?

Yes, when a loved one passes away, the executors will need the original will in order to administer the estate. If it is not easily accessible, tracking down the original will can be exceptionally trying for grieving loved ones. 

How to find your will if the law firm closes?

If you made your will or LPA with a law firm which has since closed, it could unfortunately leave you, or your loved ones, in a very difficult situation further down the line. Whilst copies of registered LPAs are easily obtainable from the Office of the Public Guardian, albeit for a fee, locating a will or unregistered LPA can prove much more complicated. This is where Scott Bailey, as a well-established local firm and familiar name on the high street, can assist you.

The solicitors and lawyers at Scott Bailey can either help you with the preparation and completion of new wills or LPAs, or can provide a service whereby we work with the law firms appointed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority to locate your existing documents and bring them into our strong room for safe keeping. We have acted for generations of families in and around the New Forest and intend to do so for generations to come.

If you would like us to track down a lost will, it is also a great opportunity to carry out a review to ensure that your will and associated documents still meet your needs. You can then rest easy that your will is up to date as well as safely stored within a properly regulated and heavily insured local law firm.

If you are affected by this and would like our help recovering a lost will or think that now is a good time to review your will due a change in personal or business circumstances, please give us a call on 01590 676933 or use our contact form to discuss your requirements further with one of our trusted advisers.

This information was put together by Laura Finlay, a Legal Assistant in the Private Client team at Scott Bailey LLP.