Synopsis: HM Courts & Tribunals Service has launched a searchable online database which will allow the public to obtain copies of wills without having to visit the probate registry.

Date posted: Friday, January 09, 2015

HM Courts & Tribunals Service has launched a new online database which will allow members of the public to search for and obtain electronic copies of historic wills within 10 working days and without having to either attend the probate registry or pay a search fee.

The database, which is populated with 41 million scanned documents, can be searched for wills and grants of representation relating to wills proved in England and Wales on or after 1858. To use the basic search facility, only surname and year of death are required although records can be narrowed down using the advanced search facility where further information (such as date of death and first name) is available. New probate records will appear online approximately 14 days after a grant of representation has been issued.

Electronic copies of records can be obtained at a cost of £10 per document.


A will remains a private document, rather than a public document, unless and until a grant of probate is made. After this time, the will becomes a public document and anyone can apply for a copy of it.

The new database provides a fantastic resource for family historians and researchers who will now be able to quickly find wills dating back as far as 1858 without the inconvenience of having to either attend the probate registry in person or incur the additional costs associated with an application for a general search.


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