After a loved one’s passing, you may need a grant of probate to settle the estate. Our easy-to-use guide will make your probate application a fast success.
Applying for Probate in the UK: Easy with our Eight-Step System
Probate is the legal and financial process to follow after someone has died.
- identifying all assets and liabilities to determine the value of the estate
- proving the will to be valid in probate court
- identifying the beneficiaries and executor of the will
- applying for letters of administration, if there is no will
- paying any applicable inheritance tax
Keep in mind that the estate may only be settled after the grant of probate. Assets can only be transferred to relevant parties once the probate court has given their ruling. And after any outstanding inheritance tax has been paid.
How to apply for probate?
The executor of estate is obligated to carry out the instructions of the deceased person’s will. The first step this will executor needs to take is to fill in the probate application forms and send them to the local Probate Registry. The probate forms to fill in are the PA1 form for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. For Scotland, the required form is the C1.
The will executor will be called to the Probate Registry to attend an interview. Here, the will executor will have to verify the information contained in the will and swear an oath. After about ten days, provided there are no outstanding issues, the probate application should be granted.
Once the grant of probate has been issued, the will executor receives a letter stating how much inheritance tax is due. This tax will need to be paid. Following this, the will executor should begin to do three things:
- liquidating the deceased’s assets
- settling any outstanding debts
- paying final estate administration expenses
Only once this process is complete, will the final assets and funds be distributed to the beneficiaries or beneficiary of a will and testament.
What is required for the probate application?
The last will and testament (if there is one) and the will executor need to be verified by a court of law. The executor of the will is required to calculate the value of the estate. This means listing the values of the following:
- any properties owned by the deceased
- cash or savings
- debts or loans
- unpaid bills
If the estate value is worth less than £5000, it is known as a “small estate” and no probate application is necessary. For an estate valued more than £5000, a probate application to the probate office must be completed.
Depending on the value of the estate, there may be inheritance tax to pay. The executor of the will may be required to pay a portion of this tax upfront. Once the estate is settled, the will executor can claim this tax back from the estate or the beneficiaries. The executor should receive a notice from HM Revenue and Customs stating that the inheritance tax has been paid (or that there is no tax due). Only upon receipt of this notice, may the will executor proceed to the application for probate.
The paperwork necessary for the probate application are:
- the probate application forms (PA1 form or C1 form)
- a death certificate or interim death certificate from the coroner
- a report of the estate’s value
- the original will (if there is one)
- letter of administration (if there is no will)
How do you apply for probate online?
The will executor or administrator may prefer the ease of applying for probate online. It is possible to fill out an online probate application on the UK Government Website, if the deceased lived most of their life in England or Wales. In this case, you would need the following:
- the original will
- report of the estate’s value
- death certificate or interim death certificate
The probate registry will keep the original will. Please remember not to remove staples or bindings from the will if you wish to make copies. If the will is tampered with or damaged in any way, a letter must be submitted along with the original will, which explains the reasons for this.
How do you apply for probate by post?
Please note that due to the coronavirus pandemic, paper applications are taking longer to process than the online service. If you still prefer to submit a postal probate application, you will need to fill in one of the following probate forms:
- Probate form PA1P if there is a will
- Probate form PA1A if there is no will
There will also be a payment to make before submitting your forms. You can pay either:
- by debit or credit card, on the probate registry card payment phone number. You will be given a reference number, which you can include in your application
- Or you can include a cheque made out to HM Courts and Tribunals Service
The completed form and payment will need to be posted together with the following:
- your original will
- two copies of the will on A4 paper
- the death certificate or interim death certificate
Please remember not to remove any staples or damage the original will in any way. The original death certificate will be returned to you, but the will shall not be.
The documents should be posted using a signed-for or tracked postal service that will deliver to PO Boxes.
The Probate UK postal address is:
PO Box 12625
How much is the probate fee for a probate application?
If the estate is valued at less than £5000, it is deemed to be a “small estate” and there are no probate fees applicable. If the estate is worth £5000 or more, there will be a fee of £215. The executor of the will is responsible for paying the cost of probate. Once the estate is settled, the executor of the estate can be reimbursed this fee and any other tax they have paid on the estate’s behalf. If an executor needs financial assistance to cover the cost of the fee, they may fill out an EX160 form.
Where can you get help and advice on the application for probate?
The executor of the will or the next of kin may choose to hire a solicitor to manage the process on their behalf. Alternatively, the Courts and Tribunals Service Center can be contacted for online probate advice.
Their webchat service is available:
Monday – Thursday, 8am – 5pm
Friday 8am – 4pm.
What should you do if there is no will?
If there is no will, the next of kin would need to be verified in accordance with Intestacy laws. A grant of representation would need to be submitted, along with the identity documents of the beneficiaries. Only once the administrator has been granted letters of administration, can the process of probate begin.
What if the will has been changed or damaged?
If the will has been accidentally damaged, the executor of the estate should include a cover letter with the original will, for the probate office. This cover letter must explain 2 things:
- the nature of the damage to the will
- the reason for the damage
If the will has been changed or amended in any way, these codicils will also need to be included and explained in the cover letter.
When is probate not required?
Probate is not required if the estate is deemed a “small estate” or if it includes only:
- life insurance policies or pension benefits
- property or bank accounts jointly-owned with another living person
- cash and possessions, such a cars or jewellery
- if the deceased’s debts are of greater value than their assets
The application for probate may seem intimidating. However, a well-designed process is in place in order to protect people such as yourself; the next of kin. The probate process will ensure that the deceased’s wishes are carried out in a legal and fair way.
If you or a close connection is in the role of executor of the will, and it proves too overwhelming, feel free to reach out to us at Fenix Funeral Directors. Our caring team has all the legal and psychological expertise to make this a smooth and successful process for you.