How to get a Copy Will or Grant of Probate.
Only once the Grant has been issued can you obtain a copy Will or Grant of Probate. This process is normally handled by the Postal Searches and Copies Department which is now based at Leeds District Registry. Their number is 0113 3896 133.
Please do not call us about obtaining copies of Wills or Grants of Probate unless for some reason you need to pay for professional advice. Why pay fees if you don’t need to? Get the copies first and ask for our advice afterwards if necessary.
No one generally has a right to see a copy Will before someone has died, and a public right only exists once a grant of probate has been issued.
(Free Guide to what to do on death by The Probate Department Ltd which is NOT the Probate Registry nor part of HMCTS.)
Postal Searches and Copies Department: Information and Conditions of Service
Applicable dates and records held: The Postal Searches and Copies of Wills and Grants of Probate Department has access to indexes of all Probate records for the whole of England and Wales from 11 January 1858 up to now.
You can apply for a copy of any proved Will, as well as a copy of the Grant of Representation. The Grant will tell you who were the Executors or Administrators (those appointed to gather in and distribute the estate). It may also tell you the name of the Solicitor acting for them (if any) and the value of the estate, although usually only in very broad terms. The financial summary shown on the Grant is the only information relating to the estate that the Probate record contains. No inventory or estate accounts are available. Occasionally, further details are available from the Capital Taxes Office, but you will normally need the written consent of the executors or administrators.
NB if Probate has NOT been granted, the Probate Service will have no record of the estate (unless it probate has been applied for but has not yet been granted) and will therefore not be able to provide copies of any document relating to it. Formal sealed copies are only available to the executors or administrators of an estate.
If the death was recent, it may be that the Grant of Probate has not yet been issued. It may be advisable to wait two or three months after the date of death before having a search made, in order to allow time for the Probate process to be completed. Other steps may need to be taken if the case may be contentious.
Applying for copy Will or Grant Before Probate has been Granted.
If you apply before Probate has been completed, you will be notified that no details are available. If you wish to pursue your enquiry, you will need to reapply after a suitable interval, enclosing a further fee and resubmitting all the relevant details, or enter a Standing Search. A Standing Search remains in force for a period of 6 months from the date of entry and provides copies of the Will (if any) and Grant if a Grant issues during this period. Contact any Probate Registry for further details.
Queries: If you have a query about an application you have submitted, please write to The Postal Searches and Copies Department, Leeds District Probate Registry, York House, York Place, Leeds LS1 2BA. It is not possible to telephone the Postal Searches and Copies Department and no other Probate Registry can answer queries about searches sent to that address.
How to apply for a Copy Will or Grant of Probate in other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
The jurisdiction of the Probate Service is limited to England and Wales. If the deceased died domiciled in Scotland, you could try contacting HM Commissary Office, 27 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 2NS (Tel: 0131 247 2850) if the death occurred after 1985, or the Scottish Records Office, HM General Register House, Edinburgh EH1 3YY (Tel: 0131 535 1334) for records prior to this. For Northern Ireland, contact the Probate and Matrimonial Office, The Royal Courts of Justice, Belfast BT1 3JF (Tel: 028 9023 5111), or, if the death occurred more than 7 years ago, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 66 Balmoral Street, Belfast, BT9 6NY (Tel: 028 9025 1318). For the Republic of Ireland, contact the Probate Office, Fourt Courts, Dublin 7 (Tel: Dublin 725555), or the National Archives Office, Bishop Street, Dublin 8 (Tel: Dublin 407 2300) for records more than 20 years old. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man also have independent Probate Courts.
Fees: When returning the completed application to the Postal Searches and Copies Department in Leeds, please also enclose the fee of £6.00. Each extra copy of the same document ordered at the same time will attract an additional fee of £1.00. Cheques or Postal Orders should be crossed and made payable to ‘HM Courts & Tribunals Service’. Fees from abroad should be paid by International Money Order, cheque or draft, payable through a United Kingdom bank, and must be made out in £ sterling. We are currently unable to accept payments by credit or debit card, nor are we able to receive search requests by telephone. Please contact any Probate Registry for details of fees for special copies (for instance if you are administering estate abroad), and mark your application accordingly.
The standard fee covers a 4-year search starting from the year in which the death occurred (or the year from which you ask us to start searching). Longer searches are charged at a rate of £4.00 per 4-year period, so that an 8-year search will cost £10.00, and a 12-year search £14.00. Please specify the period to be searched (as well as the date of death if known) and send the appropriate fee. If the death occurred within the last 4 years, the search will be made up to the most recent index. If the search is successful, we will obtain and forward copies of the Will and/or Grant as requested. If no Grant has issued in this time, you will be notified accordingly. We aim to respond to your request within 21 working days.
If a record is traced, the standard fee includes one copy of the Will, if any, and Grant, if requested. If the details you supply are incomplete, ambiguous or incorrect and the documents cannot be traced as a result, you will be asked to reapply, giving the correct information and enclosing a further payment. We cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of the search unless full and correct details are given that accord with the information supplied on application for the Grant, normally the information in the Register of Deaths. If there is insufficient information to make a search, we will contact you for further details. Please note that your payment is not refundable in the event of a negative search result.
Copies or results of a negative search will be sent from the Probate Records Centre where our records are stored.
Original documents: If you are applying for copies of older documents, you should be aware that some of these are in poor condition. Although we make every effort to produce a legible copy from the documents we hold, a small proportion will be of unavoidable poor quality.