Certainty (also known as www.NationalWillsRegister.co.uk) has provided Will storage free of charge to IPW members since 2014. This provides a facility for Wills to be stored physically, thus ensuring that it can be found and used when the member dies. This ensures that the wishes of the deceased are acknowledged legally as it is often the case that Wills are placed – by the deceased – in places unknown to their families. We have had a case where the Will was found taped to the back of the fridge.
Families can access these Wills by searching the database for documents they believe may exist. This comes at a cost to the persons trying to find these Wills as there is a fee charged for searches of the database. This saves the families the task of asking all possible writers of Wills if they ever wrote a Will for the deceased.
There are three common scenarios in which this database is used: The Will would not have been found without it being registered; the searcher was unaware of the Will and/or its whereabouts; the writer of the Will had lost the file usually due to retirement or sale of business. With over 7 million Will records within its database, thousands of searches take place every month with reasonable success.
The flaw with this model is getting finished Wills into the database. It is not a legal requirement for firms to store or advise clients to use Certainty. Furthermore, there is no incentive for firms to use the database as their monetary gains come from the Will writing process, not the fulfilment of a written Will. In practise, this means that many Wills aren’t stored with Certainty if they are stored at all. It is completely down to the judgment of the writers of Wills whether these Wills are stored. However, the free storage for members of the IPW has allowed for Certainty to stand out and add to its database.