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Public granted online access to wills database

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Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service has launched a searchable online database allowing the public to obtain copies of wills at £10 a time, within 10 working days and without having to visit the probate registry. The database contains 41 million scanned documents, some dating back 156 years.

The database will allow households across the country to view the detailed legacies of past generations, and request copies of many documents that could previously only be accessed by a face-to-face request.

As well as being able to find out about their own relatives’ histories, they will also be able to look up the wills of famous and influential people of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Sir Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens.

How you can click into history:

Log on to and create an account.

Choose the section you wish to search – Wills and Probate 1996 to present; Wills and Probate 1858 to 1996; or Soldiers’ Wills.

There are two search fields – the surname of the deceased and year of death. Both must be filled in. You can also carry out an advanced search, which requires more information.

In the 1996 to present section, a list of results will appear, giving the names, date of probate, probate number, date of death and registry of each person with that name.

Under the 1858 to 1996 section, a page from the probate calendar for that year is returned in search results, providing summaries of names, birthplace and other details. These must be typed into an online ordering form on the right of the screen.

Click on ‘Proceed to checkout’ to pay. Some documents take up to 10 days to be sent as electronic copies. The files can be accessed for 31 days.

If you have any questions in relation to this area please do not hesitate to contact Natasha McKeever or Katie de Swarte.

Author: Natasha McKeever