The firm handling the estate also handled the will. They have known since January it has been lost and it took to almost confirmation before they informed me that they would not accept my photocopy of the original. They said that, under Scots law, they would have to apply to the Court of Session in Edinburgh for an order to accept their terms of the will in its physical absence. The lawyer who witnessed the will is retired and currently on holiday.
A If you lose out as a result of the firm's carelessness, you can be compensated. The Court of Session procedure is a back-up when this kind of thing happens, as it does from time to time – a photocopy is not enough for sheriff court confirmation. The firm will naturally want to speak to the solicitor to see if every stone can be overturned to find the will. The firm has liability to you on behalf of the solicitor who lost it.
Q I had belongings stolen at the airport when we flew home from holiday. My insurers want receipts for the missing items. But some things were bought ages ago and I do not have receipts .
A Your policy will probably state what evidence of loss is required. It is general advice to keep receipts for anything of value – not just for this kind of claim but when complaining about defective goods or reporting a house fire or theft. If you paid by credit card or cheque, you should be able to access some kind of record of payment.
Q I have recently paid off my mortgage and the bank says it will release my title deeds.
However, they now want to charge me an administration fee and say I need a lawyer who will also charge for working on the deeds. Why is this?
A The mortgage is registered in the Land Register of Scotland on your title deeds and it is a legal job of work to get the security unhooked from your title.
You will also need to pay the Registers a fee for registering the release (discharge). The bank's right to charge will be listed in the original offer of loan they made when the mortgage was taken out (although you should check).
Q There is a terrible smell coming from our drains but the council says it is nothing to do with them. I am not keen to hire a plumber just to tell me that the smell is not coming from our property.
A I sympathise, although getting a plumber's advice may help – if the smell is coming from some other person's property, then that may help you to take action against the miscreant. I suggest you also speak to Scottish Water rather than the council as they are more likely to be liable to maintain the drains or know who does.