Can I see copies of earlier wills my mother wrote?

Published date13 April 2021
Date13 April 2021
I would like to know if it is possible to get a copy of any previous wills my mother made before her final one. Can I write directly to my mother's solicitor or do I have to get another solicitor to do this?

Depending on the content of the previous will, I would then decide on engaging a solicitor further.

Ms J.McM., email

Oh there's nothing to stop anyone writing to a solicitor. Whether it will get you anywhere is another question.

This is an issue that cropped up about a year ago. I'm assuming from your question that you have sight of the current will. What's not clear is what your status is in all this? Are you an executor or simply a beneficiary - disappointed or otherwise?

It doesn't change the rules but might impact the process from your perspective.

The first thing to acknowledge is that the only will that counts is the last will your mother made. It supersedes and renders null and void all previous wills.

And unless you are an executor or the will has already gone to probate, you don't even have any right of access to that. Once probate has been granted the will is accessible through the probate office online.

It seems to me that you are fishing here. You want to check and see if a previous will was more generous to you or less generous to someone else before potentially launching a legal challenge to the current will. Perhaps your mother promised you a particular bequest - a particular ring, a piece of art or a loved piece of furniture - and it has now gone elsewhere because that bequest was not specified in the will.

These things happen, mostly because people simply forget. If my own mother was to accurately recollect all the small family bits and pieces that she has promised to one or other of us, she'd be a computer. You cannot put much store by passing references. If it is not in the will, it is most unlikely you will be able to force the issue.

The grounds for challenging a will are very specific and, as you would presume, are set down in law. Broadly these fall under four categories and are to be found in the 1965 Succession Act.

First up, if the will is not properly drawn up, signed by your mum in the presence of two witnesses and by those witnesses, neither of whom can be beneficiaries, the will can be challenged on the grounds of validity.

More commonly, people will attempt to challenge wills on the grounds either that your mum was not able to understand what she was doing by way of age or infirmity, such as suffering from dementia or...

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