Probate Records (England & Wales 1858 - 2021)

Probate Search - Copy of a Will - Grant of Probate - Letters of Administration

A service provided by UK Documents (London)

7 May 2021

CORONAVIRUS - service update

Please note: probate records held in central archive storage are taking longer to be issued (typically those pertaining to years pre 1996) also, some records pertaining to the years 2019 - 2021. In all cases, we shall do our utmost to have records issued and dispatched within the shortest amount of time. Should we exceed our estimated timescale, a full and immediate refund is available upon request.



We are always happy to answer any questions you may have before you place an order. If you have a specific question which is not answered below or from the information given on our web site, please contact us

  • FAQs
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  • Useful Links
  • Ordering Instructions
  • Family History

Q. What is probate?
When a person dies someone has to deal with their estate. A legal document called a 'Grant of Representation' is normally required in order to establish who is legally entitled to deal with the deceased’s assets. Click here to see what information is stated on a Grant of Representation/Grant of Probate.

There are three main types of 'Grant of Representation':

Issued to one or more executors named in the Will (in this case a copy of the Will and Grant of Probate will be supplied)

Letters of Administration (with Will)
Issued when there is a Will but the executors named in the Will are no longer able or willing to apply for a 'Grant of Representation' (in this case a copy of the Will and Grant of Administration can be supplied)

Letters of Administration
Issued when no Will has been made or if the Will is invalid (in this case a copy of the Grant only can be supplied)

In all cases, where a 'Grant' has been issued, we will supply a copy of any available record.


The grant will always show the name, date of death and the last address of the deceased. The name and address of the person(s) to whom the estate was administered and the total 'gross' and 'net' value of the estate (as supplied by the applicant).

A 'Grant of Representation' will only show the name and address of a solicitor, when a solicitor acted for the purpose of obtaining the grant.

Estate accounts are not included as part of a probate record, nor is an inventory of the deceased financial assets or belongings. We cannot supply this information as it is not made available as a 'public record'.

A deed of variation is not included, as it is made after probate has been granted.

Q. Is a 'Grant of Representation' always required?

Not in all cases.

A Grant of Representation may not be required, when for example:

The value of the estate is small and an asset holder agrees to release assets without the need for a grant. This is normal if the value of the estate adds up to less than £5000 (current valuation)

A property is held in joint names and is passing by survivorship to the other joint owner

A joint bank or building society account is held; production of a death certificate may be sufficient evidence for the monies to be transferred to the other joint holder

An entitled person has power of attorney for the deceased’s financial affairs.

The only certain way to tell if a grant has been issued is to place an order and request a search to be made.

Q. How long does it take for a grant to be issued?

There is no time limit. This depends on how quickly the deceased's personal representative applies for probate. Prior to a probate application being made, the deceased's representative firstly needs to ascertain and value the deceased's assets. This can be a time consuming process depending on the size of the estate. Once an application has been submitted, a grant is normally issued within four to six weeks. From our experience, probate is normally granted within four to twelve months from date of death. Only after probate has been granted can we supply a record.

When an order is placed relating to a recently deceased person i.e who passed away within the past six months. We offer to continue to make a regular search for a further three month period at no additional charge. Our terms & conditions apply.

Q. What is your refund policy if no probate record is listed?

If no entry is listed at the time of our search or no trace can be found (based on the information provided) we retain a search/administration fee of £10.00. This fee covers the cost of administering and processing payment transactions and the time taken for the search. An immediate part refund of any outstanding balance is then made according to the payment method used to place the order. We will advise that a part refund has been made along with our search report. An exception to this refund, is if the deceased passed away recently and you require us to continue to make a regular search (see above).

Q. Can a search be made without an exact date of death or last address?

Yes. We are professional researchers and will do our best to identify a matching entry. The minimum amount of information that we do require is the name of the deceased, an approximate year of death and/or the last known area of residence. Provision is made on our 'online' order form for an approximate year of death to be stated within a five year period and for any additional information to be supplied. Further information is given on our ordering instructions page.

Q. Someone has recently passed away. I need to know if they left a Will and where it is located. Can you help?

Unfortunately, no. Our service only covers a copy of a will that has been submitted to a probate registry (within England or Wales) for the purpose of obtaining a grant of probate. Most Wills are kept with the solicitor who drew it up, however some are kept at home with personal papers, with a friend/relative/executor, or with a bank/building society. Assistance might be found by contacting 'The National Will Register' (

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Important: An automated email to confirm your order will be sent to you immediately after your order has been placed. If no confirmation email has been received, first check in your Spam folder (if you have one)then contact us if necessary.

If you are ordering from the USA or Canada please use the correct two letter state/province code in the field marked County or City, i.e. NV, BC, etc.

If you are having difficulty proceeding to submit order please ensure that all fields marked with the white asterisk are completed and that you have chosen both a service level and delivery method. Please, also ensure that you have read our ‘terms and conditions’ and have ticked the box. Any errors on the form, will show in red text and should be completed or amended.

Any errors made in the billing address can be amended manually. If the 'deliver to' delivery box has been ticked, please untick to make any changes.

Please ensure that the information supplied is as accurate as possible. We always conduct a second search using variables if no entry is found on our initial search. However, we do rely on the information supplied by the customer for the purpose of making a thorough search. 

Please state the last known surname. If the deceased was a married woman then this should be her last married surname. If the exact spelling of the surname is not known, please advise by adding a comment in the field for additional information.

In most cases the first and any middle names will be known. However, the deceased may have been known by a shortened version or by a nickname i.e. Dick for Richard, Peggy for Margaret etc.or a middle name may have been used as a first name. We do rely on the accuracy of the name(s) supplied and base our search on this information. However, if an entry cannot be found on our initial search we will endeavour to try to identify a correct entry by trying variables.

If the deceased's forename is not known and the only information available is an initial, we may still be able to help. This greatly depends on the popularity of the surname i.e. if the only available information is for a J. Smith who died in London in the year 2000 then we will definitely not be able to help, but if the information is for a Mr. J. Paxman who was last residing in Brighton, Sussex and who died in the year 2000, then we can.

The probate registers are arranged by year, according to when a Grant of Representation was issued (not by year of death or the year the Will was written). For this reason our search starts from the date of death and continues for a further five year period in the event that probate was granted some years later.

Please supply the exact date of death if known. If the exact day is not known, please supply the month and year only. If the exact day and month are not known, please supply the year only.

If you only have an approximate year of death, please state up to a five year period starting with the earliest year i.e. 1989 - 1993. We will then make a search covering this period and continue for a further three year period in the event that a grant of probate was issued sometime after.

Please state the last full known address or area of residence. If this was a residential home or nursing home, please state the name, address and/or location of the home. If the deceased was in temporary accommodation (hospital) then please state the last permanent residential address. An alternative address can be stated in the field for additional information if required.

Please feel free to add any relevant information that you consider may help with our search. We do not require a year or date of birth because this information is not stated in the probate registers.

Records for family history research

We want our customers to be happy with the service that we provide. Please read the following notes before placing an order.

The Probate Registry issue any available document as a scanned image of the original and in some cases the document may be difficult to read. This is normally due to the quality of the original document and/or italic handwriting. Please bear this in mind, as we are unable to obtain a better copy from any source other than the Probate Registry.

Information from probate records can provide vital pieces of genealogical information. However, it must be noted that the information contained varies considerably, we can therefore not guarantee that the information you are hoping to find will be included in any document issued.

How likely is it that a probate record will exist?

An entry relating to the deceased’s estate will only exist if a Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration was required for the purpose of administering the estate.

The main purpose for a grant is to give entitled persons (executors, next of kin etc.) the authority to deal with the assets and belongings of the deceased. It allows the money in banks, building societies etc. to be collected, property to be sold or transferred and debts to be paid. When an application for probate is made, any Will that the deceased person left must be submitted to the Probate Registry. The Will, if judged to be valid, is thereafter kept on file as a public record.

As a general guide and before you request a search please read the following information:

If the deceased owned residential property and/or held a bank account, owned shares or had business interests, then it is likely that a probate record will exist. This is because a grant would normally have been required for the purpose of liquidating these assets.

If the deceased held few real assets i.e., they did not own their own property or hold a bank account etc. then it is likely that their estate was administered without the formality of requiring a grant. In this instance no record would be available because the Probate Service would not have become involved in the administration of the estate, even if the deceased did make a Will.

Before the Married Women’s Property Act, 1882, married women could not make a Will in their own right – their property was deemed to be owned by their husband. As a result before 1882 only widows, spinsters and married women who had their property rights protected in a marriage settlement made Wills.

In some cases the only available document will be a Grant of Administration - issued when no Will has been made or if the Will is invalid. This is a brief document stating the name, date of death and the last address of the deceased and the name and address of the persons to whom the estate was administered, including the total gross and net value of the estate. We will automatically obtain this document if no Will is available. If you only require us to supply a probate record when an actual Will is available, then please state this clearly with your order. Our part refund policy will then apply if a copy of a Will is not available (see below).

If no entry is listed or no trace can be found (based on the information provided) we retain a search / administration fee of £10.00. This fee covers the cost of administering and processing payment transactions and the time taken for the search. An immediate part refund of any outstanding balance is then made according to the payment method used to place the order. We will advise that a part-refund has been made along with our search report.