Getting a copy of a will
People frequently ask us how to get a copy of a will. This query often arises where a person believes they are named as a beneficiary in a will, but the executor or next of kin is refusing to release any information or produce the will. People can feel frustrated and powerless in these situations, but there are steps that can be taken, as we explain in this short guide.
Steps to take to obtain a copy of a will
1. A will is a public document. However it only becomes available to the public once a Grant of Representation has been issued;
2. You can check whether a Grant of Representation has been issued via the gov.uk website https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate
3. If a Grant of Representation has been issued then you can get a copy of the will on the gov.uk website for a small charge; and
4. If a Grant has not been issued, you can enter a ‘standing search’ using form PA1S at a cost of £10. The form can be found here. This will enable you to get a copy of the will and the Grant as soon as a Grant is issued.
What is a Grant of Representation?
A Grant of Representation is a very useful document to have if you want to know more about an estate. It will tell you who the Personal Representative(s) is. A Personal Representative is commonly referred to as an executor and they are usually appointed under the terms of the will. It is someone who has legal responsibility for administering. The Grant will also contain details of the net value of the estate.
The importance of time limits
There are various time limits attached to bringing a claim against an estate. Some of the time limits run from the date of the Grant of Representation. It is therefore important that you get a copy of the Grant as early as you can as your claim could be prejudiced by delay.
How to get a copy of a will if a Grant has not been issued
If a Grant has not been issued but you know the identity of the person who is dealing with the estate, you can ask them for a copy of the will. However there is no legal obligation on them to give a copy to you.
Where there are serious concerns about the will and the manner in which the estate is being handled then more complicated legal steps can be taken. For instance, a caveat could be issued. However there are risks associated with such strategies, particularly in terms of becoming liable for another party’s legal costs, so we would always recommend that you seek professional legal advice from experienced inheritance dispute solicitors.
How we can help
If you need our help to get a copy of a will or would like to make an inheritance claim then you can contact us on 0333 888 0407 or by email at [email protected]