Why does your service only cover England & Wales
We are a small team with a network of agents. Our service often involves making visits in person and for this reason we cover a restricted area. Other areas of the United Kingdom have their own government probate departments and should be contacted direct. An internet search should provide the relevant contact information.
In England and Wales probate is normally the term used to describe the legal process involved in dealing with the assets of a person who has died. An application for probate is made to a district probate registry and a copy of the will is submitted with the application unless the deceased died intestate. When probate has been granted a legal document called a grant of representation is issued (often referred to as a grant of probate, certificate of probate or letters of administration). This document acts as proof that the deceased’s personal representative (executor/next of kin etc.) has the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.
Is probate always required?
Probate is normally required if the deceased held assets valued at over £5000 in their sole name. Probate may not be required if assets were held jointly i.e with a surviving spouse or if assets were liquidated prior to death. We are not qualified to advise on if and when probate may be required as we have no knowledge of the deceased’s circumstances at the time of death.
Why can’t I find a record using the online probate search facility made available by gov.uk?
As above; probate may not have been required. In this instance no public record relating to the administration of the deceased’s estate is made available as a public record. Probate may be pending; there is no time limit on how long a deceased’s personal representative may take to apply for probate, this could be weeks or even years.
Can a will be supplied prior to death or prior to probate having been granted?
A will is submitted as part of a probate application and then held on file indefinitely. It is only made available as a public record after probate has been granted.
What research do you offer in relation to probate records and wills?
If the deceased’s exact name and date of death is known we advise that you first make a search via the online government probate search facility. If no entry is listed, this may be because probate has not been granted. We advise you make a regular search.
Probate research is an area in which we excel. This is often required when for example a date of death is unknown. This is a vital piece of information and without it, nearly impossible to identify a matching probate entry. This is where our research capabilities come into play. We use the deceased’s last known address or area to find a matching entry and have an excellent success rate in identifying hard to find probate records. Our ‘reading' copy service should be used for this purpose. Note: in the event that no probate record is available, we retain a fee of 10.00 GBP for this service.
Someone has recently passed away. I need to know if they left a will and where it is located.
This is not part of our service. We can only help with probated wills. Other services are available for this purpose; try an internet search under the term “will finder”
What is a court sealed copy?
A court sealed grant of probate includes the embossed seal of the court (replaced by a hologram seal after March 2019) and acts as proof that the document is genuine. It is recognised throughout the United Kingdom. Note: the hologram seal applies to probate grants only, the will is embossed with the court seal.
What is a certified copy?
As above but also includes certification by the registry that the document is a true copy of the original. This should only be a requirement for use overseas.
What is an apostille/legalisation certificate?
An apostille/legalisation certificate is issued by the government Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. For probate documents, it confirms to overseas authorities that the embossed seal is genuine. The certificate is glued to the document and then embossed with FCDO seal.
Why do you offer a service that is already available via the government (HMCTS)?
If a personal postal application is made for a court sealed/certified document the process can take weeks with no acknowledgement that the application is being processed and no easy way of making contact. We act as your point of contact and do our utmost to obtain copies within the shortest amount of time. Many of our customers reside overseas and require additional certification and delivery options. Put simply, we offer a time saving and valued added service.
Do you offer a faster service?
Our service offers a time saving of approximately 4 weeks compared to a postal application made to HMCTS. In all cases we do our utmost to obtain copies as quickly as possible and within our estimated timescale. For this reason we are unable to offer an expedited service on individual orders. If your requirement is very urgent, we suggest you contact the issuing district probate registry for advice.