How to Get a Copy of a Will Online in the UK?

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Catrin, UK Solicitor
26/04/2024 ● 4 minutes
It may be sur­pris­ing, but once someone has passed away and their will has been granted pro­bate, anyone can access and view a copy of the will—whet­h­er you are the de­ceased's spouse, next-of-kin, a friend, or even a com­plete stranger.

In the UK, anyone can re­quest a copy of a will once it has been granted pro­bate. This means that after the will has been of­fi­cially re­cog­nised and pro­cessed, it be­comes a public doc­u­ment. Spe­cific­ally, family mem­bers, be­ne­fi­ciar­ies, or any other person is en­titled to view the de­tails of the will.

This allows trans­par­ency and means that people are able to check that the dis­tri­bu­tion of the de­ceased's estate is handled ac­cording to their wishes as stated in the will. Al­low­ing public access helps keep the pro­cess fair, and is also useful for gene­a­lo­gical re­search or legal claims against the estate.

In this art­icle, we’ll go over everything you need to know to locate a copy of a will in the UK, in­clud­ing step-by-step in­struc­tions to follow, the fees in­volved, and what to do if you’re having trouble loc­at­ing a copy.

A Copy of a Will from the Pro­bate Re­gis­try

The Pro­bate Re­gis­try plays a cru­cial role in the UK's legal system when it comes to wills and es­tates.

The Pro­bate Re­gis­try is re­spons­ible for:

  • Pro­cessing Ap­plic­a­tions for Pro­bate: This in­cludes ex­amin­ing wills to ensure they are valid and of­fi­cially re­cog­nising the ex­ecut­or named in the will.
  • Stor­ing Wills: Once pro­bate has been granted, the Pro­bate Re­gis­try keeps a record of the will, making it avail­able for public access.

Apart from the Pro­bate Re­gis­try, other legal bodies in­volved in the pro­cess in­clude:

  • The High Court: Deals with dis­putes and chal­lenges against the terms of a will or its ex­e­cu­tion.
  • So­li­cit­ors: Often assist in draft­ing wills, ap­ply­ing for pro­bate, and man­aging dis­putes or claims against es­tates.

Read more about will stor­age.

Step-by-Step Guide to Ob­tain­ing a Copy of Will Online

Rest as­sured, get­ting a copy of a writ­ten will online is a really straight­for­ward pro­cess. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you nav­ig­ate through it smoothly.

How to locate the will:

  • Using Start by vis­it­ing the web­site. Use the search func­tion to find the 'Find a Will' sec­tion, which allows you to search for wills that have gone through pro­bate.

How to pay the fees:

  • Fees: Cur­rently, there is a fee to obtain a copy of a will, which is £1.50 per copy (whet­h­er you search for this online or by post). You’ll re­ceive a copy of the grant of rep­res­ent­a­tion and the will, if there is one.
  • Note: If the person died in the last 6 months pro­bate may not have been granted yet. You can use form PA1S to ask to be sent a copy of a pro­bate if it’s granted in the next 6 months. This is called a ‘stand­ing search’ and it costs £3.
  • Pay­ment Meth­ods: You can pay the fee online using major credit or debit cards on the web­site, or if you are unable to do this you can down­load form PA1S. The form will have an ad­dress to send it to to­geth­er with your cheque. This ser­vice will take 4 weeks

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Ob­tain­ing a Copy of a Will: Spe­cial Scen­ari­os

There are a few scen­ari­os where you may find it tricky to locate a will through the tra­di­tion­al chan­nels:

Wills Not Yet Pro­cessed Through Pro­bate

When deal­ing with wills not yet pro­cessed through pro­bate (usu­ally when a person has died within the last 6 months), find­ing in­form­a­tion can be a bit more chal­len­ging. Typ­ic­ally, these wills are not pub­licly ac­cess­ible, and only cer­tain in­di­vidu­als such as named ex­ecut­ors or im­me­di­ate family mem­bers may have rights to access them.

In these cases, it's im­port­ant to con­tact the so­li­citor hand­ling the estate or the pro­bate re­gis­try for guid­ance on how to pro­ceed, keep­ing legal bound­ar­ies and pri­vacy con­sid­er­a­tions in mind.

Ac­cess­ing Older Wills

If you’re in­ter­ested in ac­cess­ing older wills, you’re most likely doing some gene­a­lo­gical re­search. The pro­cess for loc­at­ing these older wills can vary de­pend­ing on how far back you need to go.

Many older wills are held in di­git­al archives as well as in phys­ical re­pos­it­or­ies. To find these wills, you can start by search­ing online data­bases provided by na­tion­al archives or local gov­ern­ment web­sites, which often in­clude re­cords of wills and pro­bate de­tails.

If the will pred­ates di­git­al re­cords, con­tact­ing local archives or lib­rar­ies in the area where the de­ceased person lived can be help­ful. These in­sti­tu­tions can guide you on how to access his­tor­ical doc­u­ments re­lated to estate set­tle­ments.

In con­clu­sion, ac­cess­ing a will in the UK doesn't have to be a dif­ficult pro­cess. Whet­h­er you’re look­ing for a re­cently pro­bated will or dig­ging into his­tor­ical re­cords to trace your family tree, un­der­stand­ing your rights and know­ing the cor­rect steps can make all the dif­fer­ence.

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