Home > Probate > Searching for a Will

Searching for a Will

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 28 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Will Testament Search Registry Office

A will is a vitally important document. It can determine how an individual’s estate should be disbursed after their death; it can give information as to the location of those assets; it can give details of the deceased individual’s wishes with regard to their funeral arrangements; and amongst other things, it should name the individuals who are responsible for carrying out the instructions contained within it.


When an individual writes a will, they should have nominated an executor; that is, someone who has been nominated to deal with the deceased person’s affairs. This nominee should, of course, have been consulted beforehand by the individual, and should, therefore, be aware that they are the executor. If this is the case, then the writer of the will is likely to also have informed their executor of its location. Often, however, finding a will is not that simple, either because no executor has been nominated; because they haven’t been informed; or because the will is not where the executor believed it to be.

When looking for a will, there are a number places in which it makes sense to start. The first of these is in the deceased person’s home. The popularity of ‘do-it-yourself’ will-writing kits has meant that many people no longer seek professional help when writing their wills and, as a consequence, simply store the document at home. Although it may be emotionally taxing to look through the deceased person’s belongings, it is vitally important that the document is found.

If the deceased individual had a solicitor or accountant, then they may well have lodged a copy of their will with their offices. A certificate of death will often be required before a firm will release the document, but these can generally be acquired quickly after death. It is also possible to store a copy of a will with some banks; if the deceased individual’s bank is known to you, it may well be worth asking at their local branch.

Other Possibilities

There are other, less obvious places in which individuals may store their wills. You may find it useful to apply for information from the UK Will Registry Office. This is an independent service which allows individuals to store their will in a central database, and also allows relevant parties to search for a will that may have been stored by someone who is now deceased. In order to use the service you will be required to fill in an application form, and the Office will send confirmation as to whether or not the relevant will is stored with them. If you find that it is, it is advisable for the executor of the will (or the administrator if no executor was nominated) to subsequently remove it from the Office by filling in the relevant form.

If you cannot find a will, there is a good chance that it simply does not exist. If this is the case then the laws of intestacy apply, which will generally begin with a relevant party applying for Letters of Administration, which will grant them the powers of an executor. In these cases, you may find it useful to read the articles on intestacy elsewhere on this site.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Ray Delta
    Re: Debt After Death
    My partner passed away in February 2019 leaving no estate assets or monies, she had a vehicle on a lease hire agreement with an £8,800. now owing.…
    7 July 2019
  • Geoff
    Re: Divorce and Revoking a Will
    Three years ago when my wife, now deceased, was in a nursing home I had a will written that left everything to my wife's great…
    4 July 2019
  • Tonyn
    Re: How Legally Binding is a Will?
    My wife’s mother has dementia and some of her family don’t want nothing to do with her now and no longer visit her, and they…
    10 June 2019
  • John25
    Re: How Legally Binding is a Will?
    I made the mistake of removing the staple from a will to produce a copy for a beneficiary. What are the usual consequences and…
    16 April 2019
  • Butler
    Re: Life Estates
    My father has just died and I always thought he owned his property as I found deeds etc but now have found paperwork indicating it is owned by a…
    13 November 2018
  • Sue
    Re: Life Estates
    In my mums will she expressed the wish for her partner to be a life tenant. It also states that we must allow him to move house as often as he wishes.…
    5 October 2018
  • giblet
    Re: How Legally Binding is a Will?
    My wife has just passed away and we have found a will we didn't know existed. It leaves various bits and bobs but also leaves…
    30 September 2018
  • Solly
    Re: Why Make a Will?
    I just read what I said and I meant to say if you are the witness to the signing of the will. If a person is living as if they are the…
    5 September 2018
  • Solly
    Re: Why Make a Will?
    I have read that if you are the spouse or civil partner of a beneficiary of a will, the beneficiary may not receive anything from the estate. What…
    5 September 2018
  • TheWillExpert
    Re: How Legally Binding is a Will?
    John - Your Question:Is the validity of a will only governed by the signatures of witnesses, or has it to be registered…
    8 August 2018