Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’. If the person left a will, you’ll get a ‘grant of probate’. If the person did not leave a will, you’ll get ‘letters of administration’ to prove you have the legal right to deal with the estate.
When probate is not needed
You may not need probate if the person who died had jointly owned land, property, shares or money as these will automatically pass to the surviving owners or the deceased only had savings or premium bonds which would need access according to the rules of the organisation.
Who can apply
Only certain people can apply for probate to deal with the estate of someone who died. It depends on whether the person who died left a will.
A will states what should happen to a person’s property and belongings (‘estate’) after they die. It’s usually valid if it’s been signed by the person who made it and 2 witnesses.
You can apply for probate if you’re named in the will, or in an update to the will known as a ‘codicil’, as an ‘executor’. An executor is someone named in a will as responsible for sorting out the estate of the person who’s died. Up to 4 executors can be named on the application.
In order to apply for a probate you will need the original will and not photocopies. If there’s more than one will, only the most recent will is valid. Do not destroy any copies of earlier wills until you’ve received probate.
An executor only receives assets if they’re also named as a beneficiary. An Executor can also give up their right as an executor by filling in Form PA15 or reserve the right to apply for probate later if another executor cannot deal with the estate (holding ‘power reserved’) or appoint an attorney to act on his/her behalf and send it with the probate application.
When an executor is unable to apply for probate, a replacement executor should apply for probate if the executor is unable to on account of death or mental incapacity.
If the person did not leave a will the ‘administrator’ deals with the estate.
The law decides who inherits the estate if there’s no will. Relatives who are entitled to inherit are in the following order:
• husband, wife or civil partner (including if they were separated)
• children (including legally adopted children but not step-children)
• brothers and sisters
• nieces and nephews
• half-brothers and half-sisters
• half-nieces and half-nephews (the children of the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased)
• aunts and uncles
• half-aunts and half-uncles (the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased’s parent)
• half-cousins (the children of the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased’s parent)
Stopping a probate application
If there’s a dispute, you can challenge an application for probate (‘enter a caveat’), before it’s granted.
Apply for probate
You can apply for probate through a solicitor.
An application for probate can be made online or by post by filling in application Form. You need to pay before you send the form.
Inheritance Tax- You normally have to pay at least some of the tax before you’ll get probate. You can claim the tax back from the estate, if you pay it out of your own bank account.
Applications need to be accompanied by the following documents
1. The original will if you’re the executor (you do not need the will if you’re an administrator)
2. The death certificate or an interim death certificate from the coroner
3. You will also need to have reported the estate’s value and have submitted tax forms to HMRC and waited 20 working days, if you need to pay Inheritance Tax.
The probate registry will keep the original will. If you make a copy of it for your records, do not remove any staples or bindings from the original.
Probate application fees
The application fee is £215 if the value of the estate is £5,000 or over. There’s no fee if the estate is under £5,000. Extra copies of the probate cost £1.50 each.
If the will has been changed or damaged
You must include a cover letter if the will or any updates have changed in any way since you’ve had them. This includes them being damaged or separated for photocopying. The letter should explain what’s been changed and why.
After you’ve applied
You’ll usually get the grant of probate (or letters of administration) within 4 weeks of sending in your original documents. However it may take longer.
For expert assistance regarding applying for a probate contact firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp us on 07583452230 and we can connect you to the right professional. Visit www.bizlawuk.co.uk to find out more about how we can help you with our other services. If you find this information useful, please follow our social media platforms, like and share.