Probate is a grant of representation for a person to deal with the goods and assets of a person who passed away. You are able to apply alone if you find yourself in that position or you can use a solicitor or another licensed person. There are different situations you need to deal with, for example after a person dies, it may be a will or it may not be a will. In most of the cases, there are basic steps you need to take in order to apply for a probate.
- check the existence of a will, if it’s not, you can apply
- apply for a grant of representation to access the bank account
- pay the due inheritance tax
- start collecting the estate’s assets
- pay all the remain debts and unpaid bills for utilities
- share the estate to any people entitled: money or other possessions
If you can not handle this process by yourself you just have to contact the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline 0300 123 1072 or call +44 300 123 1072 from outside the UK and you will receive help to fill this form. You will get help to understand Inheritance Tax responsibilities, to get help about the forms that you need, to get paper copies of forms and complete Inheritance Tax forms. You can get help from this line from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday.
If the person who passed away left a will you can apply for a probate only if you are the executor of the will. It is possible for there to be more than one executor over the will. In this case, you will learn what to do next from the probate application form and guidance notes. If no executor is named in the will of the deceased person or none of the named executors are able to apply, then you have to contact the local Probate Registry and follow the instructions.
Probate: No Will
If there is no will left an administrator will take care of the estate. If you wish to apply for the grant of representation as an administrator of that person’s estate you have to be their spouse, civil partner or child. If you were still married when the person died but you had separated before, you can still apply. If you were the partner of the person but you were not their husband you will not be able to apply for a grant of representation known as probate and also you will not be entitled automatically to your partner’s estate. If there is no will the law will decide who inherits the estate.
How to Apply For Probate
To apply for a probate or for a grant of representation there are four steps you need to take, steps that will be explained to you below:
Step 1 – Complete the Probate Application Form
Step 2 – Complete the Inheritance Tax form
You need to find out how much values the estate of the person who died. There may be Inheritance tax to pay depending on its value. If for example, that value of the estate is less than £325,000 no Inheritance Tax has to be paid. But still, you need to fill the Inheritance Tax Form even if no tax is owed. There is a possibility of a penalty if wrong information is sent to Inheritance tax.
Step 3 – Send the Probate Application
The application must be sent to the local Probate Registry and it should include the probate application form PA1, the inheritance Tax form, the official copy of the death certificate, the will in original and three copies along with other amendments and the application fee of £215 sent as a cheque payable to HM Courts and Tribunal Service as long as the value of the estate is equal or more than £5,000.
Step 4 – Swear an Oath
On this step, you will receive details for arranging an appointment for an oath. You will have to swear the oath at a local probate office or at the office of a commissioner for oaths. Giving an oath means that all the information you provide is a promise that you tell the truth and normally you will get an answer in 10 working days.
Download Probate Application Form
To find the Probate Application Form PA1 you have to go to the Court and tribunal form finder page and download the Probate forms that you need. For example, you can download the PA1 form from here; you can also read more information about How to obtain probate, which is a guide for people acting without a solicitor; you can also read more information about what is a probate.
Complete Probate Application Form
You have to complete the Probate Application Form with Block Capitals and place a tick in the box where is the case. Complete the following sections with the required data and choose your option if that’s the case:
Step 1 – Swearing the Oath Options
- A Solicitor’s office
- The Probate office
Step 2 – Details Needed About the Deceased
- Permanent address
- Dates of birth and death
- Assets remaining upon the deceased
- Other details for the person who has died
- Marital status, date of the divorce if that was the case
Step 3 – The Will and Codicils
- Confirm or inform the existence of a will
- Confirm any codicils
- Marital status after the will
- Witnesses of the will
- Other details about executors not applying the will
Step 4 – Foreign Domicile
- The country where the person who has died lived
- Estate in the UK
- Any wills made outside of the UK
- All foreign assets
Step 5 – Relatives of Deceased
- If there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, yes or no
- Blood and adoptive relatives left after the death
Step 6 – Applicant Information
- Full name
- Telephone numbers
- Email address
- Relationship to the deceased
Step 7 – Inheritance Tax Summary
- Details about the Inheritance tax forms
Step 8 – Applying as an Attorney
- Choose if you are applying as an attorney or not
- The name of the person or people for whom you are applying
- Other details about those relatives
Step 9 – Checklist
- Verify that you have enclosed all the relevant documents and fees
When a Probate Issues
Once the probate has been issued you have to inform the organisations holding the dead person’s assets. This could be for example a bank. Once they receive this grant the assets must be released to you so you can transfer them to that executorship account.
When the assets have been transferred properly you can start paying any debts of the dead person including any outstanding bills or any tax owed.
You need to place a note in the local news Gazette to give a chance to creditors to claim any debts. You are legally responsible paying these debts before distributing the remain of the estate. The estate can be distributed as it is written in the will or if there is no will, by the law.
Stopping a Probate
If you want you can stop the probate also know as a grant of representation. This procedure is called a caveat and it will stop the probate to go further. This caveat may appear in case there is a dispute between two or more persons about who to apply for a probate or if there is a will. The caveat will last six months. To stop the probate and enter a caveat you need to be at least 18 years old and you can do it by yourself or you can use a solicitor. To stop a probate visit any Probate Registry. To apply for a caveat you will need:
- A signed application for a caveat also known as form PA8
- The details of the deceased
- Your home address in England or Wales
- £20 to pay for the caveat fees
How to Search Online for a Probate
You can search online for a probate record in England or Wales. When you search a will online you will be able to access a database of the people who died after the year 1858. You can even order copies of such probate records online by paying a fee of £10 each and you can pay with your credit or debit card. Normally it will take approximately 10 days to receive the probate records. You should also know that a new probate will enter the database after 14 days after the grant of representation will be valid.
Search Probate by Post
To apply by post for a search of a probate record you need first to download the PA1S form also known as an Application for a search. This search will cost you £10 for each copy of that grant of representation record. The response will get back to you in approximately 4 weeks. The address where you send your form is The Postal Copies and Searches Department District Probate Registry, York House, 31 York Place, Leeds, LS1 2BA.