Home Rules Legal Death and Bereavement › Find a Will or Probate Records
Search for a Will or Probate Document

A will becomes a public document once it has been probated. That means you can search online to find a will or probate document in England and Wales.

FIND A WILL ONLINE: Storing the files and public records of people who died first started in 1858.

Thus, you can search for a will or a ‘grant of representation’ for a person who died from 1858 to present day.

So, what is a grant of representation? It is a document that authorises ‘probate‘.

Having probate means you have the legal right to deal with the estate of a deceased person.

After searching for a will or probate record online you can then order official copies of the documents. You can make payments either by debit or credit card and each copy costs £1.50 (e.g. by postal methods).

Note: If you order the documents online you should allow up to ten (10) working days to receive them.

Information Before You Search for a Will

It takes a few weeks for a new probate record to appear online after someone dies. So, you should allow at least 14 days for the grant of representation to get issued before you make a search.

Different Types of Grant Available

Only certain types of grants of representation actually contain a will. But, you can determine if there is a will by searching a specific type of grant. For example:

  • ‘Grant and Will’ or ‘Probate’: A will exists and they can provide copies.
  • ‘Grant and Will’ or ‘Admon with Will’: A will exists and they can provide copies.
  • ‘Administration (Admon) or Grant’: A will does not exist so they cannot provide any copies.

Wills and Probate Records (1858 to 1996)

The departments store these files and records under the year that the grant got issued. It may not always be the same year as the recorded year of the death. So, try checking a few years after the person died if you are unable to find the documents you want.

When you search online to find a will or probate you get three option boxes to choose from. You can search for:

  1. The will or probate of any person in the United Kingdom who died in or after 1996.
  2. The will or probate of any person in the United Kingdom who died between 1858 and 1996.
  3. The will of a soldier who died while serving in the British Armed Forces between 1850 and 1986.
Find a Will using Postal Methods (PA1S Form)

To find a will by post you need to download form PA1S titled ‘Postal search of the Probate records of England and Wales’. The cost of the probate ‘standing search’ is £3 and the form contains the return address.

Note: As a rule, you would get a copy of the will (if it exists) and the grant of representation. Allow up to four (4) weeks to get response if you apply by post.

Note: A check covering the records kept from 1996 onward may find the will of someone who died during the early 1990s. The procedure of searching for a will or probate document is different in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.

How to Find a Will or ‘Grant of Representation’ in United Kingdom