Wills update: the consultation, the records & the law


03 May 2024
Genealogist Richard Holt started the #SaveOurWills following the Ministry of Justice proposal to destroy the historic records in their care. He has been looking into it further. We share some of his findings. Find the full coverage in the June 2024 issue of Family Tree UK.

The consultation period has closed (as of February 2024) and the family history community is now awaiting the Ministry of Justice response, due by the end of this month, to the feedback received during the consultation period.

Richard has been continuing to look in to the situation in the meantime. ‘Further information has come to light regarding how probate documents are held by His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and the MoJ, which significantly impacts the consultation’s proposals.

‘I was always under the impression that probate records were ‘public records’ under the Public Records Act 1958 (PRA), however determining where the PRA defined them as such was not so straightforward. I now state with confidence that probate records are ‘public records’ under Schedule 1, Paragraph 4(1)(a) of the PRA.’

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Richard continues: ‘These records are not only ‘public records’ which have been selected for permanent preservation, they have also been transferred to a ‘Place of Deposit’ under Section 4(1) of the PRA. The National Probate Records Centre (NPRC) is included in The National Archives’ (TNA) list of appointed Places of Deposit, and, according to correspondence from TNA, ‘the records are on deposit in the custody of Iron Mountain of behalf of [HMCTS] which comes under the [MoJ]’.’

What can you do to help #SaveOurWills?

Read the views of leading genealogy organisations on the MoJ proposals to destroy original wills on the Family Tree news pages.

Sign the #SaveOurWills petition

Richard has written a detailed account of his recent research, published in the June issue of Family Tree. Order June Family Tree