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Affidavit of Plight and Condition - Handle With Care

Probate solicitor, Toni Sinclair, looks at the problems that can arise when Wills or Codicils are damaged

Wills and Codicils are highly important documents. It is therefore imperative that they are very carefully preserved at all times.

Original documents should never be fastened by paperclip or stapled to any other document.

If the Will or Codicil shows signs of having been paper clipped, stapled, attached or pinned to another document (e.g. there are pinholes or the indentations of paper clips) then this can cause enormous problems when it comes to proving the Will for the purposes of obtaining a Grant of Probate. The Probate Registry will question whether there is another related document.  Likewise if the Will shows signs of having been torn or burnt, this may be taken as evidence of an attempt by the Testator to revoke the Will.

In either case, the Court will require evidence from someone who can account for the state and condition of the Will and who can vouch for its condition when it was executed by the Testator, as well as its condition when located after the Testator’s death. Finding someone who can give such evidence may not be an easy task.  Furthermore, the Court will require this evidence in Affidavit form; commonly known as an Affidavit of Plight and Condition.

The Court may also require an Affidavit of Search if the condition of the Will indicates that another testamentary document may have been attached to it or may have been intended to replace it.  This is usually supplied by the Executor named in the Will who will have to give evidence of the searches, enquiries and all the efforts they have made to trace another Will or Codicil.

In either case, at best this will increase the legal costs of administering the estate and cause delay. At worst it may mean that the Court will not grant Probate and the Testator’s wishes will not be fulfilled.

So our recommendation is to always keep Wills and Codicils together in an envelope in a secure place, such as a Solicitors strong room, the Bank or in a safe at home. You should also tell your loved ones and Executors where it is stored.  Never alter your Will or write on it after it has been signed. Never, ever paper clip, staple it or pin it to another document, such as a covering letter.  Do not damage it, stain it, or tear it and do not set fire to it! 

It is important that your Executors, loved ones and you take good care of your Will and any Codicil to ensure that when you pass away people will not have to deal with any of these avoidable complications.

You can contact Toni Sinclair on FREEPHONE 0800 037 1130 or at toni.sinclair@sleeblackwell.co.uk for advice on Affidavits of Plight and Condition and Affidavits of Search

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