The British have a belief that fair play will prevail, which other countries sometimes find strange. In truth, honesty in sport is as unlikely as Neville Chamberlain’s piece of paper. Nowadays everybody in Europe gets on like a house on fire so they say.
Take ‘probate’, for example which is a process that ‘proves’ a piece of paper is the true will of the dear departed. Nowadays a relative may execute their wishes. However things were not always that way when the official church was in charge.
Until around 1858 a hierarchy of ecclesiastical courts decided who got which of a late beloved possessions. As might be expected these courts had strange names.
# Peculiar Courts had authority over a small area. That’s ‘peculiar’ as in ‘particular’ as opposed to strange or weird we hope
# Prerogative Courts assumed control when an estate was in more than one diocese meaning Archdeacon’s Courts and Bishop’s Courts could not claim jurisdiction
# Courts of Appeal did their best to resolve objections. Until 1533 the Pope had the final decision. Thereafter the Privy Council (not people on the loo) decided until this archaic system fell away.
Since Then Britain Has Romped On with an Imperfect System
Since then Britain’s probate system has done its best to determine whether a will is valid, as opposed to forged, signed by a person under duress or incompetent, or replaced by a more recent one. This is not easy given people hide their wills under their mattresses, or between newspapers, yes in the loo too.
If a will jumps through all these hoops, true of false a probate court admits it as genuine or valid. It could be an idea to lodge a copy of your latest will with a solicitor unless a genuinely adoring crowd of family or fans surrounds you.
However, if a probate court official decides a will is not up to scratch, then it is null, void and as if never put to paper. In that instance the deceased is declared intestate (never left a will) and an administrator must distribute the assets as best they can.
That Sounds Crazy; I Could Never Run a Business Like That!
You are quite correct and 100% right. The British habit of doing DIY has run railroads through the system. There’s only one way through the chaos:
# Have a proper will a probate court will accept
# Lodge the original with a rock-solid person
# Ask a friend to tell the rock solid person if you die
# The rock-solid person can then inform the executor
Try to avoid running anything parallel to these arrangements. If your friend knows who your solicitor is they can kick-start the process. If not, there’s distinct possibility your last will and testament may never see the light of day.
A probate court may then approve someone else’s ‘will’ over your possessions. That’s not cricket is it? However now you know how to ‘bowl the ball’ you could hit the middle stump and get your way.