The cost of ordering post-1857 probate records via the government’s Find a Will service has been cut from £10 to just £1.50.


The price cut, which was introduced in a statutory instrument that became law on 22 July, will be in place for the next 12 months.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, which runs Find a Will, told WDYTYA? Magazine that a new proposal for ordering probate records would be implemented after that time, which “might mean other price changes”.

Find a Will allows you to search English and Welsh probate records from 1858 by surname and year of death.

You can then order a digital copy of the record, which takes up to 10 working days to arrive.

What are probate records?

Probate records are a key family history record.

Probate refers to the process of ‘proving’ a person’s will after their death by seeing that the administration of their bequests was carried out correctly.

Probate records confirm that the process was carried out and include a transcription of the will.

What information do probate records contain?

They list the names of the will’s executor, beneficiaries and witnesses – often the children, relatives or friends of the deceased.

They also provide an insight into your ancestor’s life by revealing how much property they owned and what it was worth.

They can even include comments and messages from the testator, illustrating the nature of their family relationships.

In addition, they include the address and occupation of the deceased and their date and place of death.

When were they introduced?

Until 1857, probate was the responsibility of ecclesiastical courts run by the Church of England.

From 12 January 1858, a civil Court of Probate for England and Wales was established, with local registries across the country.


Rosemary Collins is the staff writer of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine