Creating a will is essential for everyone, in every stage of life. However, what happens if someone passes away and they haven’t told anyone where their will is or you don’t know if they have one?
📣 Side note: Get a will. Tell someone. Keep it safe.
If you find yourself in either of these situations, you need to know where to start with your search.
Let’s start with one word.
Probate is the process of managing and distributing assets left by the deceased. It is required when the person who died, owned property (in most cases), or a bank or financial institution asks for a grant of probate.
If there is a will and probate is needed, then the executor needs to apply for this. So, to re-iterate, applying for probate is applying for the legal right to settle or deal with someone’s estate. 🏠
Probate is not always needed, but finding the will is almost always. If you don’t’ know where someone’s will is, here are a few places to start looking.
Their home. Many people write a will and keep it close to them. If you think you will find this difficult to do, you should ask someone to support you.
Local solicitors. If you know that the person had used a local solicitor, check if they have the will. If they do not, you could ask other solicitors in the local area.
National Will Register. The National Will Register contains details of millions of wills. You can search this register two main ways. 1. Will register search: a will registration certificate was found or you believe the will was registered (£45.60 charge) 2. Will search combined: 3 searches are done for registered and unregistered wills (£114.00 charge)
If the will is with a solicitor, you are the executor and a grant of probate is needed, you can apply for a copy in an online database. For England and Wales, you simply need to search the probate records. You can do this online and it costs £1.50 for every copy of a probate record that you request. You can also fill in a PA1S form and search for a probate record by post.
When you carry out a search for probate records, you need to know the following details for the person who has died:
- Full name
- Date of death
Last known address
Finding a will in Scotland 🏴
If you are trying to find a will in Scotland, you can search the Registers of Scotland online. If the will is not registered, there is no charge for this service. If you do find the will and want a copy, the cost is currently £16 + VAT for a plain copy and £30 + VAT for an extract. If you are looking for a will from before 15 March 1993, you should search the National Records of Scotland instead.
Finding a will in Northern Ireland
If you need to find a will in Northern Island, you should check the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) online.
Finding a will
As mentioned, there are a few ways to find a will. But at Bequest, we don’t believe you should have to go searching. We help people write their wills online and love to give you extra protection of storing it for you.