41 Million Wills Made Available Online By Government

Wills Dating Back To 1858 Are Now Available Online


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
The government has made 41 million wills dating back to 1858 available for members of the public as part of an online project run by HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

The documents are available for a small fee and the wills of some of the most influential people of the 19th and 20th centuries can be viewed online. 

An electronic copy can also be delivered within 10 working days.

Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said: “This fascinating project provides us with insights into the ordinary and extraordinary people who helped shape this country, and the rest of the world. It is a fantastic resource not only for family historians but also for anyone with an interest in social history or famous figures.”

Phil Greenwood, Commercial Director at Iron Mountain, which worked with HMCTS on the project, described the completion of the online phase of the work as a “significant milestone”. 

“Every will among the 41 million is a precious historical document that can provide remarkable insight into generations of lives lived and lost. The wills offer us a unique glimpse of individuals in their roles as father or mother, friend or colleague. The online availability of the wills is a welcome opportunity for anyone wishing to add detail to their family history,” he added.

Expert Opinion
This project is an extremely welcome one, as it will improve access to wills for people who have an interest in the history of their family, or even famous faces from history. However, we hope it will also encourage people to put their own plans in place for their death.

“Many of the wills in this database will be very detailed and those viewing them will hopefully realise how important it is to thoroughly assess all of their assets and to ensure their estate is distributed correctly.

“While many people may feel that money can be saved by avoiding legal advice when writing their will, our experience is that such an outlook can create a false economy. This is because ultimately, if they do go it alone, problems can be more expensive to correct in the long run.

"Also, with specialist advice, they may be able to look at ways to reduce the burden of inheritance tax to the benefit of families and charities.”
Gillian Coverley, Partner