How to Obtain Probate - Will Solicitors Advice UK
This UK website aims to show you how to obtain probate personally however in the event that you decide that you may need professional assistance our specialist probate solicitors are willing to give free legal advice. Obtaining probate is not always easy or straightforward and if you eventually decide to instruct a lawyer to deal with the matter on your behalf, our probate solicitors offer a full professional service at reasonable cost for personal representatives and beneficiaries and those who may wish to contest a will including dependants of the deceased for whom inadequate provision has been made by the deceased or those who may wish to issue a caveat in the court, which delays the issue of a grant of representation, in order to allow time to attempt to resolve any contentious matters.
Our probate solicitors deal with all manner of testamentary matters and we have set out some frequently asked questions below to attempt to help you to understand how the law of probate works. One of the questions most often asked on search engines is 'how to obtain probate' - we'll try to tell you. If you want a probate solicitor's advice on how to obtain probate, with no charge on any of these matters simply call the helpline or complete the contact form or email our offices.
- Husband or Wife
- Sons or Daughters
- Brothers or Sisters
- Other relatives
What is a Grant of Probate?
An individual may possess assets before death which must be distributed after their death in accordance with the law. If the deceased left a will it should give an indication as to the testators wishes for distribution of those assets and may also appoint a living person, called a an executor who is the deceased's personal representative, to deal with the administration of the distribution of the assets. That personal representative derives their authority to deal with the property by virtue of the will however a third party will want some proof that there is valid authority and this is provided in the form of a document sealed by the Probate Office which is part of the UK Civil Court system, called a Grant of Probate. If there is no will or if there is a will that does not appoint named executors then authority is derived from a document called 'Letters of Administration'.
How can I obtain a grant of representation?
Those people who are appointed as executors under a will can obtain a Grant of Probate. A Grant of Letters of Administration may be obtained if there is no valid will by close family in the following order of precedence :-
It is advisable to take legal advice on the Intestacy Rules as there are some complications and anomalies.
How do I apply for a Grant of Probate?
The document call a 'Grant of Probate' is obtained from the Probate Office after statutory procedures have been satisfied which include completion of various court forms, valuation of all assets and payment of any inheritance tax which may be due on the deceased estate. The documentation together with the will and death certificate is submitted to the Probate Office of choice where an appointment is arranged for interview. Provided that all is in order the Probate Office will issue a sealed original Grant of Probate plus the requested number of official copies.
Where do I get the probate forms?
The forms can be obtained personal from the Probate Office or can be downloaded from HM Courts & Tribunal Service website and from the Inland Revenue website. The most important forms are the 'probate application form' which requires full details of both the deceased and the applicant and the 'Estate Account' form which must contain a full assessment of the value of the deceased estate.
Where do I post the documents?
The full pack of forms together with the death certificate and will should be sent to either the local Probate Office where you wish the interview to take place or to the Probate Registry. It is advisable to use 'Special Delivery' and to ensure that you keep copies of all documents submitted especially the will.
What tax is payable?
Full details of Inheritance Tax may be obtained from the website of the Inland Revenue. In most cases there is no tax to pay however some estates will be outside of the allowances and the Probate Office will not issue the Grant of Probate until the tax is paid. The normal course of events is for the Estate Account form to be sent to the Capital Taxes Office to assess the amount of Inheritance Tax that must be paid once the interview at the Probate Office has taken place. Tax is due come what may 6 months after death and interest on unpaid balances applies.
What are Letters of Administration?
If the deceased dies without a will (intestate) or if there is a will but no executors are appointed under the terms of the will then a Grant of Probate cannot be issued. It is then up to one of the potential beneficiaries to obtain a document known as a Grant of Letters of Administration which empowers the administrator to deal with the estates assets. Who benefits from the estate is determined by the statutory Intestacy Rules which outline the priority of relatives of the deceased.
Can I avoid probate?
In the case of very small estates there may be no need to obtain a Grant of Probate if the organisation holding the asset is prepared to release it to the beneficiaries or the next of kin. Jointly owned property does not usually require a grant of probate to transfer to the other joint owner however sale of real property to a third party will require a grant of representation.
What Do I do Next?
Once the grant of probate is obtained the executor or administrator will send a sealed copy to all of those people or organisations that hold assets of the deceased. The assets will usually be liquidated and the value will be credited to the estate account before payment of any debts that the deceased may have had at the time of death prior to being distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will or by virtue of the Intestacy Rules if there is no valid will.