A public affair
Did you know that wills become public documents after you pass away?
While you’re still alive, wills are very much private documents – for obvious reasons. What seems a fair distribution to you can be seen as contentious by someone else.
If everyone in your family knew exactly how much they were getting, as well as what everyone else was getting, there could be squabbles. Particularly so if someone was left out altogether.
But after you die, it’s a different matter. If you’ve ever wondered how it is that the details of celebrities’ wills are splashed all over the newspapers, now you know. It’s because they’re public and anyone can read them.
So how do you go about getting hold of someone’s will?
Fortunately, the government’s new “Find a will\” service makes it easy. The website enables you to search for the will or probate of any person who died in the UK after 1996.
It\’s slightly more complicated to get hold of older wills, but it’s still straightforward. You use the same website, simply clicking the middle tab towards the top of the page. Searches go right back to 1858! You can also find the wills of soldiers who died serving in the British armed forces between 1850 and 1986.
It costs £10 to order a will using the website. Once you’ve obtained the will, you’re entitled to view it for up to 31 days.
This procedure applies for getting hold of wills once probate has been granted. If the person has died but probate hasn’t yet been granted, the executors should know where to find the will.
It could be at someone’s house, held by a will writing company or solicitors’ office, or potentially at the London Probate Department. For more information on finding a will after someone has died, see the Gov.uk website.