Is A Lost Will Presumed To Have Been Revoked?

In the case of Jones v Tracey & Ors (Re Costs) [2023] EWHC 2256 (Ch), Master Marsh sitting in the Chancery Division of the High Court considered the presumption of revocation of a Will whereby if an original Will cannot be located on a person’s death it is presumed the Will was destroyed by them and as such revoked.

Jones v Tracey & Ors

Case background

In this case, the Deceased, Mr Turner, had made a Will in 2013 favouring his close friend Mr Jones, the claimant. The original however had not been found in the four years since his death, and a grant applied for was based on a copy the Deceased had kept amongst his papers.

The Third Defendant, a Ms Cano, was the Deceased’s Sister, who would benefit under an intestacy if the Will was treated as having been revoked. She had entered a caveat and defended the claim insisting the presumption of revocation ought to apply.

The Court found that there was evidence, based on the parties taking this approach rather than any specific documents or recollection, that the Deceased had the original Will in his possession and so the presumption would apply if not rebutted, but went on to state that it would have little weight given the Deceased was extremely disorganised and that it was possible he had destroyed the original by accident, given he kept a copy, without meaning for the Will to be revoked.

The Court established the Deceased’s intentions at the time of the making of the Will based on the solicitor’s notes and the copy Will, and that they had not changed since the Will had been made.

The Deceased and his Sister remained estranged, and he was still very close to the claimant and his family. There was no evidence the Deceased had changed his mind or that he had taken any steps to make a new Will. The evidence was said to be overwhelmingly in favour of the Deceased never having intended to revoke his 2013 Will.

In conclusion, the Court found that the presumption of revocation was rebutted and ordered a grant of probate of the contents of the 2013 Will as set out in the copy, and the caveats were removed.


Where a Will cannot be found it therefore does not necessarily mean that it cannot be admitted to probate. If you are unsure about whether there was a Will that cannot be found in the estate of a loved one it is important therefore to take professional advice about your options.

How can we help?Jones v Tracey

Lewis Addison is a Partner in our expert Dispute Resolution team, specialising in Will, Trust, and Probate disputes.

For more information regarding the subjects discussed in this article, please contact Lewis or another member of the team in Derby, Leicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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