What is a Probate Search?
04 May 2017
If you are going through the Probate process, you will need to search for all the assets in the Estate, and all the beneficiaries, to ensure that nothing is missed.
Or if you are looking for historic Grants of Probate or Wills in England or Wales, you can do a Probate search on the gov.uk website.
What is Probate?
When someone dies, all their possessions will be left behind, such as their home, bank accounts, possessions and pension. If the deceased person left a Will, their Executor will be responsible for sorting out these assets, which are known collectively as the Estate.
Normally an Executor will have to get the legal authority to deal with the assets in an Estate. To do this, he/she must go through a legal process called Probate. This involves getting a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry, finding all the assets that the deceased person owned, and distributing them to the beneficiaries named in their Will.
If the deceased person died without making a Will, it is still necessary to go through the Probate process. The person who applies for Probate will often be one of the beneficiaries. A set of laws, called the Rules of Intestacy, decide who the beneficiaries are.
During Probate, it’s the Executor’s responsibility to gather in all the assets in the Estate. If something is missed, it won’t be accounted for and the beneficiaries won’t receive their full inheritance. The Executor could be held personally accountable for a mistake such as this, even if it was a genuine error.
Therefore the Executor needs to undertake thorough searches to ensure all the deceased’s assets are found. This can be difficult, particularly when the Executor had little regular contact with the deceased, and if there are foreign assets such as property or a pension.
An Executor will also need to find all the beneficiaries who are named in the Will. Again, this can pose problems because some beneficiaries may have lost touch with the deceased. If so, the Executor won’t have their contact details, and so will need to search for them instead. This can be done through general enquiries, newspaper advertisements and a genealogist; for more information see What Happens if a Beneficiary can’t be Found?
If a missing beneficiary is not found but later comes forward, he/she would be entitled to claim their share of the inheritance. Unless provisions have been put in place, the Executor will need to pay this from their own pocket.
So completing the necessary Probate searches is absolutely vital, or the Executor could be held responsible for anything that is overlooked. If you have been named as an Executor and are concerned about carrying out these Probate searches alone, our Probate Specialists can help you.
With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
Grant of Probate Search
Alternatively you may be looking for an old Grant of Probate or a Will. Often it’s possible to find these documents, because when a Will goes to Probate it becomes a public document, as does the Grant of Probate.
Normally after a Grant of Probate is issued by the Probate Registry, the public will be able to access it within 14 days.
You can start your search by looking on the Government website. This allows you to find a Will or Grant of Probate for people who died in or after 1858. To search the Probate records, you’ll need the name of the deceased and the year of their death.