Two Wills - which one to prove?

The son/executor of mother’s Estate has handed me two original Wills. Both Wills appear to be identical. They each have a revocation clause. They have both been signed by the testator with the same two witnesses. One is dated, the other undated. The pens used in each Will are different and the order the witnesses have signed is different. I’ve spoken to one of the witnesses and he doesn’t recall signing two Wills. However, they would have been signed in 2008 and he sounded quite elderly.

I spoke to the will writer who took the instructions from the testator and he confirmed that the company that prepared the Wills sent out two copies of the Will to the client as standard practice. It wasn’t clear whether there was an expectation that both copies were to be executed.

Can anyone advise what the Probate Registry’s protocol would be in the above scenario? As the Wills are effectively identical, the testator’s intentions are clear. Would both Wills have to be submitted with the application? I don’t think there is any point in getting an affidavit from either witness as to the execution of the Wills.

Samir Hussain

Whilst it is unlikely that both were intended to be executed as a will, in the absence of evidence that one was executed as a copy, or the order in which they were executed (as the later revokes the earlier version), I suggest that both should be submitted for Probate

Paul Saunders FCIB TEP

Independent Trust Consultant

Providing support and advice to fellow professionals

At the risk of being shot down here, I would take a practical approach and only submit the will which has been dated.

Submitting the two to HMCTS is only likely to cause a delay in the issue of the grant of probate and at the end of the day in my opinion, probate will only be issued on the Will which has a date on it.

Patrick Moroney

If you are certain that both are identical, I would agree with Patrick and only submit the dated Will.