What to do with old Wills following death

I would like to seek users’ views about what to do with old Wills following the death of a client.

As a matter of policy our firm retains old Wills with new Wills in a Will packet. Sometimes following the death of the client the executors want to deal with the Will themselves. We therefore give them the last Will and Testament, but not any previous revoked Wills.

Until recently we used to put the old Wills in the archived Will file which was then kept for many years, but since July 2018 we have decided to destroy physical files upon archiving and just rely on the electronic version of the file. So in future there will be no physical file into which to store the old revoked Wills.

One option would be to scan the old Wills on the electronic version of the file and then destroy the old physical Wills. This would then at least ensure that a copy of any old Wills is available should the last Will be successfully challenged.

I would value any thoughts about how to handle this issue.

Philip Evans
Graham & Rosen Solicitors

I keep a copy of any previous wills with the new will and destroy the previous one at that point. That eliminates the risk of the wrong will being sent to probate but preserves the evidence of previous testamentary dispositions. If there is a successful challenge to the later will then application can be made for leave to prove the copy. In your case I would suggest that you scan the will as you suggest. That does, of course, leave the issue of whether the electronic file will be retrievable ten or twenty years from now.

Mrs J E Bennell


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I applied for “probate” in Switzerland and was advised that all Wills must be produced, current, lapsed, revoked (we assume), cancelled, etc.

Julian Cohen

Simons Rodkin

Perhaps I am missing something. Surely the superseded wills (namely the actual pieces of paper) belonged to the testator during his lifetime and form part of his estate afterwards. Is not the executor therefore entitled to them?

Clifford Payton
Alpha Court Chambers