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Probate jargon – what does that word or phrase really mean?

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Search for a Will being Probated

Search for a Will being Probated.

Information is available in leaflet PA10 – How to enter a standing search.

(England and Wales only)

What is a standing search?

A standing search has two functions:

  • A continuous check is made for 6 months from the date the standing search started. If a grant of representation is issued within 6 months,  the person requesting the standing search) will be sent a copy of the grant.
  • A search is also made of the grants of representation issued in the 12 months before the standing search was set up. If a grant was issued during that period you will be sent a copy. Records of grants issued over a year ago are not searched.

For most purposes a general search is more useful than a standing search. However, a standing search can be useful if:

  • You have already carried out a general search but you believe that a grant will issue in the next six months
  • The date of death is recent
  • You need to know that the grant has issued e.g. if you intend to make a claim against the estate.

What is a grant of representation?

A grant of representation is a document issued by the High Court to the executors or administrators of an estate that gives them authority and proof of their authority to collect in and administer the estate. The three main types of grant:

  • Probate – issued to the executors named in the Last Will.
  • Letters of Administration with Will Annexed – issued to someone other than an executor when the deceased left a Last Will but for some reason the executors are not acting.
  • Letters of Administration – issued when the deceased did not have a Last Will.

The grant provides the names of the executors or administrators, an approximate idea of the value of the estate, and if a firm of solicitors applied for the grant, it will give the name and address of the firm. The term ‘grant’ is used to refer to the grants of representation listed.

Does a grant issue to every estate?

No. In some lower value cases the executors or administrators can obtain all the assets in the estate without needing to obtain a grant of representation. This applies to most small estates (i.e. where the deceased left less than £5000.)  It often applies to estates where all the assets were in joint names. If no grant has been issued the Probate Registries do not hold any details of that estate and therefore cannot provide with any information.

How do I enter a standing search?

To start a standing search must complete a standing search form PA1S or supply these details in writing:

  • Full names of the deceased (all forenames and surname) including any names by which the deceased may also have been  known and the name in which the death was registered. e.g. John Phillip Smith, John Philip Smith or John Smith.
  • Last permanent address.
  • Date of birth.
  • Date of death or a range of dates if you don’t know the exact date.
  • Your name and address.

You must provide full and correct details for the deceased. If you give inaccurate details the search is unlikely to be effective. If you apply by letter make sure that you state that you are applying for a standing search or a general search will be done. Send the completed form together with the fee of £6 (as at June 2011) to either:

a) Probate Department

Principal Registry of the Family Division, First Avenue House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP

or b) Any District Probate Registry or Probate Sub Registry

Cheques should be made payable to “HM Courts and Tribunals Service.”

What happens next?

You will get confirmation that the standing search has been started. The letter will give you the reference number for your standing search which should always be quoted. As long as you have given the correct details of the deceased should a grant be issued before your standing search expires you will be sent a copy.

What if I do not receive a copy of a grant?

This means that no grant has been issued which corresponds to the details you provided within the 6 months.

What should I do if I find I have given the wrong details?

Tell the Registry at which you requested your search in writing as soon as possible, providing them with the correct details.

Can I renew my standing search?

Yes. The standing search can be renewed within the last (i.e. sixth) month, e.g. if your standing search commenced on the 1st January it would expire on the 1st July. It can therefore be renewed from the 2nd June to the 30th June. To renew the standing search, write to the registry where the search was entered quoting the standing search number and the name of the deceased and enclose the renewal fee of £6. If  applying by post make sure that you have left enough time before the expiry date. If your standing search has expired you will need to start again, filling out a new forms and a new reference number will be allocated. .

I want a general search rather than a standing search, what should I do?

You should either go personally at the Probate Registry with the full name of the deceased, last permanent address and date of death. Check to find out whether the deceased was known by any other names and whether the name on the death certificate is the same as the full name. You should search for an entry in these other names too. It may also be worthwhile to search a range of dates for the date of death.  This is the only way of ensuring you have the best chance of finding the relevant person. If you find an entry in the records for the deceased, it will cost £6 for a copy of the will and for a copy of the grant as long as you request both together. OR write to: Leeds District Probate Registry, York House, York Place, Leeds LS1 2BA In you letter you should give the full name of the deceased, date of birth, last permanent address and date of death. The fee for a search, including a copy of the grant and/or Last Will if a record is found) is £6. If you need a search to be made for a period of more than 4 years, there is an extra fee of £4 for each period of 4 years after the first 4 years. Please do provide the fullest possible information to enable the search to be made. Leaflet PA9 – How to enter a general search

Search for a Will being Probated.