Did your ancestor die in England or Wales? Search more than 24 million records in the government probate index from 1858 to 2019. The index will give you a person’s death date, probate date, residence, next of kin and more.
With every record, you will find a transcript of the vital details found on the probate index. You will find an image of the government probate index for all probate records before 1996. The details found in a transcript may vary, but most will include:
Registry - The district probate registry where the estate was administered.
Document type – This information is only available for records after 1996. It will explain whether there is a grant only or grant and will available.
The image shows the government probate record index. Even though it is in an index is does provide valuable information, such as:
Place of death
Next of kin
Next of kin’s occupation
Type of record available – administration, probate,
Value of effects
The England & Wales Government Probate Death Index has been created from the death index created by the Probate Service. In 1858, the responsibility for proving wills and granting letters of administration was passed to the Probate Registry by the Church of England. Probate was under the jurisdiction of the Church of England before 1858. At this time, a Principal Probate Registry was established in London and numerous district probate registries. Any estate can be administered in the Principal Probate Registry, regardless of its location.
Probate is the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s estates; such as property, money and possessions. The index will explain what type of record is available. You will find ‘will’ if the individual created a will with his or her wishes for the estate. If a will was not created, you will find ‘administration’. A probate record was not created for every person who died.
After the Married Women’s Property Act was passed in 1882, married women were allowed to retain ownership and control of their property. This meant that women could also create wills regarding the property they owned. Before 1882, a married woman could only create a will with her husband’s permission.
You can order a copy of the original documents from the probate service. The link to the service is available in the Useful links and resources section.
Begin your search broadly. Start with just a name and a year.
If needed, you can narrow your search results by adding additional search criteria such as a residence town or, keyword.
Try different name combinations if you are having difficulty locating your ancestor’s entry. Occasionally, the last name was recorded as an initial only. Try searching with only a first name and year.