Thursday, 27 November 2014

Probate Search Facility

For those of us an ocean away from the UK the announcement that as of Friday 12th December, the Probate Service for England and Wales will make available online records from 1858 to the present is good news. It will include the records of some soldiers who died on active military service between 1860 and 1982, predominantly those who died in the First World War.
"You can search, order and receive copies direct from your own computer without waiting for the Probate Registry to send them to you.
You can search and if there is a match you will be informed straightaway. You can then decide if you wish to pay £10 and order the documents.
You can pay by credit or debit card.
You will be informed by an email when the documents are available for downloading on your computer.
This is a change in the way the Probate Service deliver our copies and search service and therefore from Friday 12th December the London Probate Service will cease to provide a copy ordering function as this will now be available online. The facility will remain open for collection of orders made before the 12th December but will close permanently from Friday 19th December.
The Probate Service has over the last few weeks received feedback from users on the changes we are making and ahead of the 12th December would like to extend and invitation to a Search facility users meeting to be held on Tuesday 2nd December between 1-2 pm in the search facility."
It makes sense to take advantage of web technology to make these records more available.

BUT

It's costly. For those of us who remember spending a few pence to obtain photocopies of probate documents at Somerset House £10 is outrageous.
Also the implementation is far from ideal. There is insufficient information to search on to enable you to distinguish your Mary Smith from the others who died in the same year.
The Society of Genealogists has identified other lacunae and will be attending the 2 December meeting to represent our interests. Representation is one of the main reasons I'm a Society of Genealogist member. If you want the family historian's voice heard in UK developments like this I encourage you to join SOG. The more members the strong the voice.

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