Over the last 10 years, the traditional image of researchers poring over dusty archives has given way to a modern approach that leverages technology, databases, and innovative methodologies.

The digital era offers probate researchers a wealth of resources that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Online databases now house a treasure trove of probate records, wills, and historical documents, making the once arduous task of manually sifting through archives a thing of the past.

The accessibility of these resources has not only expedited the research process but has also widened the scope of information available to genealogists.

Remembering Old Processes

Ryan Gregory, International Manager, Finders International;

“Many years ago we used to use the printed B,M,D (Birth, Marriage, Death) calendar indexes at the Family Record Centre, along with microfiche copies, now replaced by online indexes and GRO indexes. Newspaper archives were searched on microfilm up in Colindale and have been replaced by online records.

Grave information has gone from local investigations to sites such as Find A Grave. Census records were on microfilm and have been replaced by online records. Probate records were searched via calendar indexes at the Principal Registry of the Family Division, or microfiche, now all online.

Back in the day we used to rely on Friends Reunited as the main ‘social media’ source but now it’s anything from Facebook, to Twitter, to Instagram etc. A lot more electoral registers are available online these days, but many do still need to be searched locally or at designated places.”

Andrew Ritson, Legal Support Services Manager, Finders International;

“When I first joined Finders, Wills and Probate records were held at First Avenue House on High Holborn.

We used to sieve through records via large A3 record books, but the in-person ordering system doesn’t exist anymore and everything was moved to an online database/e-commerce government site.

This means we don’t have to send one of the team down there every day, pay for the documents in cash and wait around for an hour at a time for our orders to arrive.”

DNA Testing

DNA analysis allows researchers to establish familial connections with a precision that was inconceivable in the past. The ability to match DNA profiles has opened new doors for identifying heirs and establishing genealogical links that might have otherwise remained hidden.


Collaboration and networking are now integral to the modern approach in UK probate research. Researchers no longer work in isolation; instead, they tap into online communities, social media profiles, forums, and collaborative platforms. This interconnectedness enables the pooling of expertise, sharing of insights, and collective efforts to solve intricate genealogical puzzles.


Finders International identify and trace heirs to unclaimed estates, property, and assets worldwide – enabling the rightful heirs / next of kin (via intestacy law) to lay claim to an unexpected windfall. Discover more about us at www.findersinternational.co.uk.