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Wills and Probate Records

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Wills and Probate Records

Postby Narnster » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:41 pm

Can anyone offer any advice regarding the above. I know about the National Probate Calendar but can more information be obtained about the entries in that? I see it's £10 for a search on gov.uk but it says you need to send the death certificate. Would the outcome be a much bigger document? I have accessed some very helpful wills in the local records office from prior to 1935 but I didn't find a particular one I wanted from 1981. Any general guidance in this area would be very much appreciated.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:56 pm

I think there may be some confusion here.

I'm talking England & Wales here. The Probate Calendar for most years can be seen on Ancestry. There is no way to get any more detail other than by ordering the will from https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills (there may also be a postal method still, I don't know).

If you go to https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills you can do the search yourself for free. It costs £10 to then download the will itself or grant of letters of administration if there is one.

You do not need to send a death certificate - if there is a will, then, by definition, the person is dead. I wonder if you may be mixing this up with opening an entry in the 1939 Register, which does need a death certificate.

Sometimes it will be easier to use Ancestry to do a search to find the entry and then use https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills just to order the will. In other cases, the calendar for that year isn't on Ancestry so you need to use https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills to do both the search and the ordering.

If you can't find an entry in https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills then the logical conclusion is that there wasn't a will. You may find a reference in the calendar to grant of letters of administration - if that is so, then there was no will and almost certainly the letters of administration contain nothing more than what's in the calendar so won't be worth getting.

NB if it says something like "letters of administration with will attached" then there is a will but the original executors couldn't or wouldn't apply for probate - so do send for that sort.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby junkers » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:46 pm

A will does not have to be proved if it is of low value and uncomplicated, but a will will usually give more details that the probate calendar and will include gifts, addresses, names and addresses.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby peter kent » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:26 am

The probate calendar is just an index. It's provided to help you to order a copy of the grant and will. The amount of information in the calendar varies depending on the period. In 1981 for example, the calendar does not name executors and administrators. If you want the names you have to order a copy of the grant (and will if there is one).
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby Narnster » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:23 pm

Thank you everyone for those very helpful replies. (Adrian, it wasn't the 1939 Register that I saw that you had to send a death certificate. I had gone onto the website for the probate office in Holburn and a few clicks later that's what I came across. It was on this page... https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheri ... te-records )

You are a wonderful bunch on here so thanks again. I have now sent for one will for starters. (One that wasn't listed on Ancestry. Is that unusual?)
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:23 pm

Narnster wrote:... It was on this page... https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheri ... te-records )...

Well, that's a new one on me. It seems to refer only to wills stored at the London Probate Department. That fact that you also need to prove "that you’re the executor named in the will" seems to suggest something odd about these - whether they are wills still in the course of being dealt with, or highly confidential wills, I don't know. Either way I still don't understand the need to provide a death certificate other than that's standard requirements when you're acting as an executor.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby ksouthall » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:10 pm

AdrianB38 wrote:
Narnster wrote:... It was on this page... https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheri ... te-records )...

Well, that's a new one on me. It seems to refer only to wills stored at the London Probate Department. That fact that you also need to prove "that you’re the executor named in the will" seems to suggest something odd about these - whether they are wills still in the course of being dealt with, or highly confidential wills, I don't know. Either way I still don't understand the need to provide a death certificate other than that's standard requirements when you're acting as an executor.


I'm guessing here Adrian but I'd agree with your suggestion that these wills sound like they are still being dealt with. This could be because the death is quite recent and/or because the executors have not been traced. Perhaps they had moved or died and the will hadn't been updated? If the executors had died, would the responsibility pass to the executors of any deceased executors? I have seen this in old wills but don't have many copies of recent wills.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:25 pm

Except.... If the executors haven't been traced e.g. because they are dead, I don't think the will would be in the possession of the probate service because it's surely the executors who submit it for probate?

I didn't think that there is any automatic hand over of responsibilities of deceased executors. I think that is when you see "Letters of Administration With Will Attached" as the phrase in the Probate Calendar. Presumably someone who wants the estate administered has stepped in. Either from a sense of duty or because they are due an inheritance! But it's not something I've seen.

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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby ksouthall » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:29 pm

AdrianB38 wrote:Except.... If the executors haven't been traced e.g. because they are dead, I don't think the will would be in the possession of the probate service because it's surely the executors who submit it for probate?


You are probably right, unless a will was found in a deceased person's house or possessions and was handed to the probate office by the person clearing a property. I guess the will could be that of the deceased person or someone else who they were safekeeping it for. I don't know how likely that is though.
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Re: Wills and Probate Records

Postby Sylcec » Mon Jan 09, 2017 9:34 pm

Now - I hope this isn't going to be a duplicate post - Katherine and I must have posted at the same time and mine got lost!
Actually, Adrian the reasons for letters of Admon with will attached, include when a non-valid will was presented. This may be because it did not include signatures of 2 valid witnesses; or because the will did not include a "rest and residue" clause, meaning the testator's directions were incomplete. There may be other reasons, but those are the 2 which first spring to my mind.
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