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DIY Probate  

This will assist anyone preparing for probate themselves but should you wish any assistance then please ask for our help you may be surprised by the cost of our fixed price probate service.
This is for help and guidance only and not a substitute for proper legal advice.
What is Probate
When a person dies somebody has to deal with their estate (the money, property and possessions left) by collecting in all the money, paying any debts and distributing the estate to those people entitled to it.
The term probate often means the issuing of a legal document to one or more people authorising them to do this
The probate registry issues the document, which is called a grant of representation.
These are three types of grant of representation:
  • Probate : Issued to one or more of the executors who are people named in the deceased will to deal with the estate.
  • Letters of Administration (with will) : Issued when there is a will, but there is no executor named, or when the executors are unable to apply, or do not wish to be involved in dealing with the estate.
  • 3. Letters of Administration : Issued when the deceased had not made a will, or any will made is not valid
Throughout this website the term grant will be used for all types of grants of representation.
 
What forms are there?
The following forms may be obtained from your nearest probate registry (Probate Office locations).
The probate application form
This form asks for details of the deceased and yourself as applicant.
Account of the estate
This form asks you to give a full account of the deceased's estate. You should try to obtain the full value of all items shown, including any interest or bonus, which will be paid. Any money due from the deceased's employer should be included. The full market value of any house should be shown, although a professional valuation is not normally required. The value of household goods, jewellery and belongings should be shown as the amount for which they could be sold.
You may also download some forms from the Probate & Inland revenue's website.
 
What else should I send?
  • The death certificate;
  • The original will (or any document in which the deceased expresses any wishes about the distribution of his or her estate). (You should make and keep a copy of any will you send).
 
Where do I send the forms?
You must send your forms and any other post either to the probate registry where you wish to be interviewed or to the probate registry, which controls the local office where you wish to be interviewed (Probate Office locations).
Please do not send any post to local offices.
You must attend at least one informal interview to enable a grant to be issued.
You must state on the probate application form at section 1 which is the most convenient place for you to attend.
After they have received your application they will send you an appointment for interview.
The interview can take place either at probate registry or at one of its local offices (Probate Office locations).
It is important that you do not address any post to local offices, as this will delay your application. You may hand your forms in at the probate registry or local office when it is open.
If you are applying for a grant with someone else who is unable to attend for interview at the place you have chosen, arrangements may be made for their attendance at a different place. However, this will mean that the issue of your grant will take longer.
 
What about duty or tax?
In most cases no inheritance tax is payable.
In cases where inheritance tax is payable a grant cannot be issued until tax has been paid.
If the deceased's estate is very close to or exceeds the limit at which tax becomes payable the account of the estate will be sent to the capital taxes office after your interview.
After the capital taxes office has returned the account to the probate registry they will notify you in writing of the amount payable.
Arrangements for payment will be explained to you at your interview.
The issue of the grant does not imply that the Inland Revenue agrees all values submitted and correspondence may take place when the account is returned to the capital taxes office.
Please note that tax becomes due 6 months after the end of the month in which the deceased died
Interest is charged on unpaid tax from and including the due date whatever the reason for late payment.
If you have any queries about tax and interest, which you want to deal with before you apply for a grant, you should contact
 
What are the responsibilities of the probate registries?
They are responsible for making sure that an applicant is entitled to be given a grant and that any will produced appears to be properly made.
If there is any doubt as to whether the will left by the deceased is valid or where it appears a will had been altered or amended they may wish to interview one of the witnesses.
Please note that the responsibility of the probate registry ends when the grant is issued.
The Probate Registry is unable to assist you in dealing with the estate after that.
 
Why is a grant necessary?
Organisations holding money in the deceased's name need to know to whom that money should be paid and the grant is proof that the person named in it may collect the money.
The estate left when a person dies passes to the people named in his or her will. If there is no valid will it passes on to his or her next of kin.
The distribution of the estate to the correct people is the responsibility of the person named in the grant.
The grant is proof to anyone wishing to see it that the person named in it is entitled to collect in and distribute the estate.
 
Is a grant always needed?
Sometimes a grant is not needed and you may wish to ask anyone holding the deceased's money whether they will release it to you without seeing a grant. If they agree they may attach conditions. It is for you to decide which is the cheaper or easier option.
These are organisations that may release the money to you without a grant, if the amount held is small and there are no complications. Among these are insurance companies and building societies
You will not usually need a grant when a house is held in joint names and it is clear that the house automatically becomes the property of the surviving owner.
If you are in doubt on this point you may need to ask a solicitor whether a grant is needed to change the ownership.
You will need a grant to transfer or sell a property held only in the deceased's name.
Do not advertise any house for sale too soon after the owner's death, as a sale cannot be completed until you have obtained the grant. The date of issue of the grant cannot be guaranteed to coincide with the final stages of any sale.
 
Am I entitled to a grant?
There are rules, which govern who may be given a grant, and whether or not one is issued may depend on the circumstances in a case.
The following points are a brief guide for you:
  • If there is a will with named executors they are the first people entitled to a grant.
  • If there are no executors or the executors are unable or unwilling to apply, the next person entitled to a grant is any person named in the will to whom the deceased gives all his estate, or the remainder after the gifts have been paid.
  • If the deceased has not made a valid will, his or her next of kin should normally make application for a grant in the following order of priority:
    1. Husband or Wife;
    2. Sons or Daughters; *
    3. Parents;
    4. Brothers or Sisters; *
    5. More distant relatives.
      (* Or if any have died in the lifetime of the deceased then their sons or daughters may apply)
  • A grant cannot be issued to any person under the age of 18.
  • Illegitimate relatives other than sons and daughters may not be entitled to a grant.
  • When more than one person is entitled to a grant they may all obtain a grant together, however there is a maximum of four applicants allowed. In most cases only one person needs to obtain a grant but there are circumstances when you and another person may need to obtain a grant together.
  • If you are asked by someone else to apply on their behalf please send a note with your application giving the details of that person, and the reason why they are not applying.
  • If it is not possible to issue the grant to you the Probate Registry will explain the reasons
 
Is a grant always needed?
Sometimes a grant is not needed and you may wish to ask anyone holding the deceased's money whether they will release it to you without seeing a grant. If they agree they may attach conditions. It is for you to decide which is the cheaper or easier option.
These are organisations that may release the money to you without a grant, if the amount held is small and there are no complications. Among these are insurance companies and building societies
You will not usually need a grant when a house is held in joint names and it is clear that the house automatically becomes the property of the surviving owner.
If you are in doubt on this point you may need to ask a solicitor whether a grant is needed to change the ownership.
You will need a grant to transfer or sell a property held only in the deceased's name.
Do not advertise any house for sale too soon after the owner's death, as a sale cannot be completed until you have obtained the grant. The date of issue of the grant cannot be guaranteed to coincide with the final stages of any sale.
 
How do I apply for a grant?
The five stages for applying for a grant are set out below and explained later in greater detail:
  • Obtain the application forms; (choose the Probate Office nearest you and they will send you the forms you need).
  • Choose where you wish to be interviewed; (Probate Office locations)
  • Complete the application forms;
  • Return them, with the death certificate and the original will (registered post or special delivery is optional but certainly desirable) to the appropriate probate registry
  • Attend the interview
 
Why do I have to be interviewed?
The purpose of the interview is to confirm the details you have given and to answer any queries you may have.
To complete your application you will be asked to sign a form of oath, and swear or affirm before the interviewing officer that the information you have given is true to the best of your knowledge.
In most cases only one interview is required.
If you application is complicated there may be additional documents to be signed, or you may be asked to contact other people (for example a witness to the will) so that they can be interviewed or to obtain their signatures to documents.
 
When will I be interviewed?
You will be given the earliest available date for interview at the probate registry or local office of your choice.
However the number of applications waiting to be dealt with varies and it is difficult to say how soon you will be interviewed.
No appointment can be given until the probate registry has examined your application.
If they are unable to send you a notice of appointment within two weeks of receiving your application you will normally be sent an acknowledgement of your application.
 
What happens after the interview?
After your interview the grant will be prepared by the probate registry and sent to you by post.
The interviewing officer should be able to give you an estimate of how long it will be before the grant is issued. When you receive the grant you should show it to any person or organization holding the deceased's money or property that has asked to see it. The money and property will then be released to you.
Copies of the grant may be obtained from probate registry and are only valid if they bear the impressed seal of Court.
If they are unable to send you a notice of appointment within two weeks of receiving your application you will normally be sent an acknowledgement of your application.
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