The government has launched an online archive of historical wills.
The new database will allow anyone to access and view the 41 million wills held in government archives., dating as far back as 1858. These include the wills of famous names – in its report, the Daily Mail cites the will of Winston Churchill, cryptographer Alan Turing, and authors Charles Dickens and AA Milne.
In addition to wills, so-called ‘grants of representation’ will also be available to view. These give holders ‘probate’ – the right to deal with the estate of a person who has died.
Visitors to the site will also be able to order copies of particular documents, for a £10 fee.
Each of the wills and grants was meticulously hand-scanned in order to be made available online.
The new data represents a significant expansion of the wills and probate documents available to view online – previously only material dating back to 1996 was available.
Stowe Family Law solicitor Duncan Watson said:
“This is interesting not only because it will allow the public to more easily obtain the wills of famous but also because it marks yet another step into the digital world for legal services. People have always been able to obtain a copy of any will held by the probate registry as they become public documents once they are lodged there, but this online initiative makes the procedure so much more accessible. There is a clear trend towards make legal services more accessible by pushing them online.“
The government recently enabled online applications for lasting powers of attorney.
Visit the wills archive here.