A will is made public if a grant of probate is required to deal with the estate. It may be worth bearing in mind that your will is likely to become a matter of public record at some point after your death, so if there are some personal details that you wish to remain private it’s possible to make a letter of wishes to store with your will that will remain private.
What is a grant of probate?
Many people are surprised that executors of a will may need to apply for a grant of probate, which is issued by the Probate Registry. It is a legal document which confirms that the people named as executors are entitled to deal with the estate. This means that organisations such as banks or the Land Registry can easily identify that they’re speaking to the correct person by looking at the grant of probate.
The Probate Registry deals with any disputes regarding the will and between any named executors so that everything is set out clearly and the estate can be easily divided. It’s particularly likely that anyone who is the executor of an estate which includes property will need to apply for a grant of probate.
When are wills made public?
Once a grant of probate is issued, a will becomes a public document and is registered with the Probate Registry. This means that anyone can view it or obtain a copy. 💻
If a grant of probate isn’t needed, then your will would remain private between your executors and there would be no need for anyone else to see it. It would not be registered publicly and it would not be possible for anyone else to apply for a copy.
How can I get a copy?
Anyone can apply for a copy for a fee by accessing the government website. It’s worth noting that this only applies in England and Wales, as Scotland and Northern Ireland use a different system.
What is a letter of wishes?
It’s possible to keep some information private by writing a letter of wishes to store alongside your will. ✍️ A letter of wishes is written by you and it would only be read by the people it’s addressed to. It would not be registered publicly and is not legally binding. It may be a great way to convey personal information or wishes to beneficiaries or executors, especially if it’s something you would rather keep private.
You can store a letter of wishes alongside your will, so that it’s easy for your executors to find after you’re no longer around.
A will is a legal document, no matter whether it is made public or not and your will is your last chance to communicate with your loved ones. If you haven’t written one yet, it’s worth considering writing a will to ensure that your wishes are granted after you’re gone. You can read more about the legal pros and cons of registering your will to help make your decision. It can be so difficult on your loved ones without a will.
We think ensuring that you have an up-to-date will is a wonderful act of kindness you can do for your loved ones 💛
It’s easier than ever to get a will with our hassle-free, digital and print-at-home service. For an additional £49 we can ensure that your will is printed, bound and delivered to you, while also adding it to the National Will Register! This means that your loved ones will have no doubt of what your wishes are after you’re gone and can grieve without the added stress of wondering if you have a will and what your wishes are.