In recent years I have received several requests for assistance by family members or beneficiaries who believe that someone is refusing to give up a Will kept in their possession. This usually happens when the person who has the Will is not happy with its contents because they expected to be left more than they actually were, and so they either seek to frustrate probate by sitting on it and not cooperating or they perhaps go a step further and deny the existence of the Will entirely.
This kind of conduct can lead to excessive delays in administering the estate, and it can therefore be necessary to take action. It is possible to apply to court under section 123 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 to issue a subpoena requiring the individual to lodge the document at court. This is usually effective because the subpoena is endorsed with a ‘penal notice’. This means that in the event that the individual fails to comply, he or she could face a fine or imprisonment.
A subpoena can also be issued in respect of earlier Wills or codicils, which can be very helpful in investigating someone’s entitlement to an estate under an earlier document.
Should you require any assistance in obtaining Wills, or you would like to discuss a dispute concerning Wills, Trusts or probate, please contact me on 01279 755777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.