How can I find out if someone has left a will? My father in law has passed away and we are trying to sort out funeral arrangements and any wishes he might have had but are unsure as to whether he left a last will and testament as this was never talked about.
My condolences on the death of your father in law. We have all seen films and TV shows where a significant plot line involes the loss or alleged loss of the will. As a rule, I advise my clients to make a separate statement of funeral wishes. In sum it is a good idea to inform those likely to be planning the funeral of what ones final wishes are rather than leaving it to the will. The funeral depending on local custom being more immediate than executing the will.
As there is no central register for wills, the responsiblity for saftey of the documents rests with the testator
On the broader point of the will, it is always sound practise to inform the significant parties to the will, at least, in broad terms, what the provisions of the document are, and where it can be found. There is no central register of wills [this would be consistent with the fact that there is no obligation on anyone to record his testamentary intentions in writing] , therefore, the responsiblity to keep the will safe lies with the testator, after all, the document is no good if it cannot be found. At the risk of stating the obvious, informing the significant parties especially the beneficiaries, trustees and exectors of the content and location of the document would reduce the probability of fraud or surprises that could lead to a challenge or contest of the will.