How do you find a will after someone has died? Our simple guide is here to help. Find out where to look (and how to look) below.

When someone dies, you might not always know whether they had a will, or where the will is kept, especially if they passed unexpectedly. You might also want to find a will if the executor isn’t willing to share the details with you and you’re concerned that you might need to challenge them in court.

So, how do you find out if someone has a will, and when can you do it? Here are a few ways to find a will before and after the will is filed with the government for probate.


How to find a will before probate

  • Check their home. Your first port of call should be to check the home of the person who’s died for either the document itself or, if a solicitor helped to create the will, their contact details. Be aware that going though their belongings can be emotionally difficult – ask someone to help you look if you need support.
  • Check with local solicitors. If the person who’s died has had any other legal help in the years before their death – for example, if they divorced or moved house – then a solicitor may have been involved. Try contacting them first; if they don’t have the will, try contacting other solicitors near the home of the person who has died.
  • Check the National Will Register. A final option for those wondering how to find out which solicitor holds a will is the National Will Register. This is what it sounds like: a huge national register of wills, designed to help families track the location of a will and who made it. There are over 8 million wills in the system, registered by solicitors, will writers and storage facilities. If you use their Will Search service you can not only check their registered wills but also any non-registered wills in a specific location. While it costs £38 (plus VAT) to conduct a search, it’s typical to pay this (or get compensation for it) from the estate of the person who has died.


How to find a will after probate

If the will is being held by a solicitor, you will only be able to see it if you’ve been named as an executor. However, a grant of probate is often needed before anyone can start settling the estate – once the grant is applied for, a copy of the will is stored by the government and can be seen by anyone who applies.

How to find the will of a deceased person online in England and Wales:

In England and Wales, probate records from 1858 onwards are searchable on their online database. You can also fill in form PA1S and send it by post.

To access these documents, you’ll need:

  • The full name of the person who’s died as it appeared on their death certificate
  • The date of their death
  • Their last known address

You’ll be able to perform the search from around two weeks after probate is granted. It costs £10 to get copies of the will and the grant of probate. If you’re not the executor and you’re not sure when probate will be applied for, you can set up a standing search for about six months. This also costs £10, and can be renewed.

How to find a will online in Scotland:

In Scotland, you’ll need to check the Calendar of Confirmations at the National Register of Scotland if the death was between 1926 and 1999. For deaths after 1999, you’ll need to contact the Commissary Department of the Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

How to find a will in Northern Ireland:

In Northern Ireland, probate records are held at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI).


Make your own will

Dying without a will can have serious consequences for the people you care about, making it hard (or even impossible) for them to claim their fair inheritance. Luckily, making a will is easy: at Beyond, you can create your will online from home in just 20 minutes.

Our service includes unlimited updates, free will registration, and advice from our friendly team of legal experts. Find out more and start making your will online here.


Settling someone’s estate? We can help

Now that you know how to find out if someone has a will, you might be wondering who can help you settle the estate once you find it.

Here at Beyond, we offer a range of quick and comprehensive estate administration service for a guaranteed fixed fee. Depending on what you need, we take care of everything, from applying for the grant of probate to calling energy companies and even rehoming pets. Prices start at £695. Click here or call us on 0800 054 9896 today to get a quote in minutes.


Next in our probate series >> What is Probate?

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