As a preliminary point, Wills are private documents, and they retain this status until a Grant of Representation is issued by the Probate Registry. Once the Grant is available, you can download a copy of the Will from the Government’s Find a Will website for a small fee (currently £1.50). 

However, you may want to see a copy of the Will before the issue of the Grant. This could be to find out if you have been left anything or if you have concerns about the Will and its potential contents.

Speak With a Contentious Probate Solicitor

What information do you need to get a copy Will or Grant?

To acquire a copy of a Will, you will need the full name of the deceased, date of death, address and postcode. These will be required if the estate is to be administered in the UK.

Who is entitled to acquire a copy of a Will?

After the testator has died, the rules on who is able to see a copy of the Will depends on whether a Grant will have been issued:

Before a Grant is issued - only the Personal Representatives of the Will are entitled to read it. They may, however, choose to share a Will copies with the beneficiaries as a matter of courtesy. If a legal probate service or bank is storing the Will, they cannot show it to you without the permission of the Personal Representative(s). They can, however, tell you who the Personal Representatives are and share any funeral wishes expressed in the Will.

After a Grant has been issued - anyone can attain a copy of the Will by applying to the official Probate Registry and paying a small fee.

What can I do if someone won’t release the original Will to me and I am an executor?

If you know who has the Will, you can issue an application to the Probate Registry for a subpoena requiring the individual to produce a copy of the Will from the deceased person.  

Obtaining a copy of a Will

There are several different ways to try to obtain a copy of a Will. These include:

Speaking to the Personal Representative

The Personal Representative will likely be in possession of the Will as they are the people who have the responsibility of dealing with the estate administration. If you are on good terms with the Personal representative, it is generally recommended that you first approach them and make enquiries. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself, you can ask a friend or family members to speak to them on your behalf.

Registering a Standing Search  

It is recommended that you register a Standing Search with the Probate Registry. If this is done, the Probate Registry will send you a copy of the Will once the Grant has been issued. Please note that a Standing Search has a six-month “lifetime”, and you will therefore need to keep renewing this to make sure you receive the Will and Grant.  

Applying for a Certainty search 

Certainty is an organisation which can make enquiries with local solicitors to ascertain whether a Will was prepared. Further information about Certainty can be found on their website together with details of their fees.  

Keep Checking 

As explained above, once the Grant has been issued, you will be able to purchase a copy of the Will online. It is always worthwhile to keep checking this website to ensure you are able to obtain a copy of the Will as soon as possible. 

Instruct a solicitor to prepare a letter to the Personal Representative to ask for a copy of the Will. 

Solicitors can write to the Personal Representative to request a copy of the Will on your behalf. However, Personal Representatives do not need to comply with this request.

Contact Our Contentious Probate Solicitors

We fully appreciate that obtaining a copy of a Will can be difficult, particularly if you are not on good terms with the Personal Representative. If you have concerns about a Will and are having problems getting a copy, you can contact our Contentious Probate department below.

0161 941 4000