Your questions on dealing with a deceased's estate

How can I get a copy of a will?

The court will only have a copy of a will if confirmation has been issued by the court or if a will has been registered in the court. You can check if a will has been registered in a Scottish court (although this is uncommon nowadays) by contacting either your local sheriff court or HM Commissary Office. Access contact details.

A fee will be payable for obtaining a copy of a will, and the court can advise you of the fee that will be charged in your particular case.

Sometimes a will is registered in the Books of Council and Session, which are held by the Registers of Scotland.  


I’ve been told I need to get confirmation, what do I need to do?

See guidance notes and forms for use when applying for confirmation (the Scottish equivalent to Probate) for a small estate (i.e. an estate which has a value up to and including £36,000). The sheriff clerk can help you complete the form for a small estate if you want them to, and you can arrange an appointment by contacting your local sheriff clerk’s office - access contact details.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service is prohibited from assisting applicants for confirmation to large estates (i.e. estates exceeding £36,000).  We would recommend seeking legal advice in these cases and contact details for solicitors in your area can be provided by the Law Society of Scotland.

You can find the forms and guidance notes to use when dealing with a large estate on the HM Revenues and Customs website.

Please note that where the death occurred on or after 1 January 2022, HMRC have issued revised forms and guidance which can be found at the above website address.

There is a useful guide produced by Scottish Government  'What to do after a death in Scotland...practical advice for times of bereavement', it contains some helpful advice about the role and responsibility of executors in Scotland.


Has confirmation been granted?

In order to find out if Confirmation to the deceased’s estate has been granted, you should contact either:


How do I access historical records that dealt with a deceased person’s estate?

If confirmation was issued prior to 1 January 1987, records will now be held by the National Records of Scotland (formerly the National Archives for Scotland).

If there is no record at the National Records, it may be that confirmation was issued on or after 1 January 1987. You can contact either your local sheriff court or HM Commissary Office - access contact details.

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