HOW TO OBTAIN A WILL
(Part One: Wills of England and Wales for the period 1858 to Present Day)
(Updated due to new price structure from 26 April 1999)
(amened with the York Probate sub-registry's new address and details 13 April 2004)
Getting a copy of your ancestors will is relatively straight forward and easy. The only items of information you require are full name, last known address and the date of death.
Please note that all postal orders now go through the Probate Sub-Registry, Castle Chambers', Clifford Street at York see full address and details below.
Over the centuries different methods have been employed for the provision of proving wills and their upkeep, prior to 1858 wills were proved by church courts. In 1858 the government took over the proving of wills, this method is still in existence today.
The traditional place for searching and obtaining copies of wills is Somerset House in London. You can make a visit to the probate registry at Somerset House and look through the will indexes free of charge. If you discover a will in the indexes you can have a look at it for a small fee and also order a copy. Copies take approximately three days to be processed. The cost for a copy personally obtained from Somerset House is at present £5.00 which includes all pages and postage.
If you are unable to visit Somerset House do not despair, as you can order a copy by post. All postal enquires should be addressed to The York Probate Sub Registry at York and not to Somerset House (who would only forward your request to York). Again if you send your particulars including the above three details and a cheque for £5.00 made payable to H.M.P.G they will search and supply you with a copy, this takes about 28 days.
The dates which Somerset House and the Probate Registry cover are 1858 to the present day. Somerset House is open Monday to Friday 10am till 4.30pm. If you live near York you can visit the Sub Registry yourself and submit your request in person (opening hours as above).
You may like to search for a will yourself. Indexes to the wills for England and Wales can be found at various places including all Probate Registries throughout England and Wales (consult telephone directories for places and addresses). At some registries there maybe limited access to the indexes. At York you are only allowed a five year search. The indexes are arranged in year order and in alphabetical order making searching very quick.
The Probate Sub Registry at York holds the original wills for some of the Yorkshire courts. Most wills for persons dying in the Kirklees area (e.g. Huddersfield and Dewsbury) were proved at Wakefield up until 1969 when the Wakefield Court was transferred to Leeds.
The Leeds Probate Registry holds the probate Indexes for last 50 years (currently 1945 to the present year). You can view any will proved at Wakefield, Leeds or Sheffield from the year 1945. Copies can be ordered from any they have or any others proved at different courts which will be sent on by post. The charge made for viewing a will is £15.00 but a copy can be ordered for £5.00.
Copies of the indexes from 1858 to 1944 can be consulted at the Wakefield County Record Office. An added advantage of visiting the Wakefield County Record Office is that they have copies of all Wills proved at the Wakefield Court from 1858 to 1941. You can order the book containing your chosen will once you know the probate date and consult it free of charge. Make sure you make an appointment before visiting though. The office is open Mondays 9.30am till 8pm and Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9.30am till 5pm (closing for lunch 1pm - 2pm). Please note the Record Office will no longer produce copies and you are asked to contact the Probate Registry at York.
What does it cost?
Payment should be made by cheque or postal order, payable to HMCS.
If you are applying from outside the UK, payment should be made by international money order expressed in pounds sterling. If you attend an office in person, you may of course pay cash.
Further enquiries and requests for orders please use the following address, telephone numbers, email address and web site
Postal Searches and Copies
C/o York Probate Sub-Registry
1st Floor, Castle Chambers
York YO1 9RG
t: +44 (0)1904 666777
f: +44 (0)1904 666776
Other usefull addresses and telephone numbers
Wakefield County Record Office, Newstead Road, Wakefield. Tel 01924 295982
Leeds Probate Registry, Coronet House, Queen St, Leeds. Tel 0113 2431505
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