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In the UK many people simply keep their Wills at home without registering them or lodging copies elsewhere.
This means that in most cases the first thing you should do is search their home for documents. This might seem obvious but searching where they lived is the best place to start. Popular locations include:
The National Will Register, is maintained by the website www.certainty.co.uk. It is very easy to see if a Will has been registered using certainty, and the process is a very quick and cost efficient method of locating a will before probate has been granted.
Many solicitors and legal professional who write and store Wills in the UK will have registered to use the service. It will cost £38 (plus VAT), but in most cases the cost will be refunded from the estate of the person who passed away.
If they used a solicitor or legal professional to write the Will then it is very likely that they will have a copy of document. Get in contact with solicitors that you know the deceased has used in the past and ask if they have a copy in storage or digitally.
However, only an executor of a Will is entitled to a copy and so if you are not named then it is likely that the solicitor will refuse to issue you a copy, however this should at least make you aware of its existence.
You are however able to apply to see a copy of a Will once it becomes a public document. This happens after a grant of probate has been issued to administer the Will.
Anyone can apply for a standing search from their local District Probate Registry. If you apply for a standing search, the probate registry will send you a copy of the grant, together with a copy of the Will, if one was made.
Once probate is granted you can apply to your local District Probate Registry, together with a cheque for £10 made payable to HMCS.
The form can be found on the government website using the button below:
The good news is that even if probate has not yet been granted the search will remain in place for six months.
This means that if grant is issued in the immediate future then the probate registry will still send a copy to you.