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Applying for a Probate
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Home / Further Information / Probate / Applying for a Probate

When a person dies their “executors” (if the deceased left a will) or “administrators” (where there is no will) have the task of dealing with the deceased’s estate. The process of dealing with the estate is referred to as “probate” (if the deceased left a will) or “administration” (if the deceased did not leave a will).

Executors and administrators normally have to apply for a “grant of probate” (if the deceased left a will) or “letters of administration” (where there is no will) before they can deal with the deceased’s estate.

This article explains how to apply for a grant of probate. If you require guidance as to how to apply for letters of administration you should read our article entitled “dealing with intestacy”.

Do I need a solicitor to apply for probate?

Many executors choose to instruct a solicitor to apply for a grant of probate on their behalf as the process can seem daunting and can be very time consuming. There is, however, nothing from stopping you from applying for a grant of probate yourself. If the deceased’s estate is of high value or is complicated in any way it may, however, be sensible for you to appoint a solicitor to act for you.

You can appoint someone who isn’t a solicitor to apply for a grant of probate on your behalf. Such a person is referred to as an “attorney”.

How do I apply for a grant of probate?

When applying for a grant of probate the first thing you will have to do is complete a probate application form and an Inheritance Tax form.

The probate application form

The probate application form is referred to as form “PA1” and can be obtained from your local Probate Registry. Alternatively a copy can be downloaded from Her Majesty’s Court Services website. The contact details for your local Probate Registry can also be found on Her Majesty’s Court Service’s website.

The Inheritance Tax forms

The type of Inheritance Tax form you will need to complete will depend upon whether Inheritance Tax is likely to be due or not. Inheritance Tax is payable when the taxable value of the deceased’s estate (after certain exemptions) exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold. The current threshold (for the 2010-2011 tax year) is £325,000.

If you do not anticipate there being any Inheritance Tax due you should complete Inheritance Tax form “IHT205”.

If you do expect Inheritance Tax to be due you should complete Inheritance Tax form “IHT400” and a “Probate summary form” known as form “IHT421”. There are some additional forms that accompany form “IHT400” and the notes which accompany form “IHT400” explain when these additional forms should be completed.

Copies of all of the forms can be obtained from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs or can be downloaded from their website.

Sending off the forms where Inheritance Tax is not payable

If you do not anticipate there being any Inheritance Tax due you should send both form “IHT205” and “PA1” to your local Probate Registry. In most cases a fee will be payable for applying for probate (currently £90.00) and if a fee is payable payment should accompany the documents. No fee is payable if the deceased’s estate is worth £5,000 or less after funeral expenses and any debts have been discharged. In cases of financial hardship it may be possible to obtain a “remission” from payment.

If you have appointed an “attorney” to apply for the grant of probate on your behalf you should confirm in a letter signed by you that you want the attorney to apply for the grant of probate on your behalf. Your letter should accompany the forms which need to be sent to the Probate Registry.

Sending off the forms where Inheritance Tax is payable

If you do expect Inheritance Tax to be due you should send form “PA1” to your local Probate Registry and forms “IHT400” and “IHT421” to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. A fee is payable in most cases for applying for probate (currently £90.00) and payment should be sent to the Probate Registry with form “PA1”. No fee is payable if the deceased’s estate is worth £5,000 or less after funeral expenses and any debts have been discharged. In cases of financial hardship it may be possible to obtain a “remission” from payment.

If you have appointed an “attorney” to apply for the grant of probate on your behalf you should confirm in a letter signed by you that you want the attorney to apply for the grant of probate on your behalf. Your letter should accompany the application for a grant of probate.

When completing form “IHT400 you have the option to calculate the tax payable your self or ask Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to work out the tax for you. If you have calculated the tax yourself you will need to obtain an Inheritance Tax reference and payslip from Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. If you have asked Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to calculate the tax for you they will do so and then tell you what is due.

Once any tax has been paid Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs will stamp and send on form “IHT421” to the Probate Registry confirming this.

Attending an interview at the Probate Registry

Within roughly 10 days of receiving the forms the Probate Registry will ask you to attend a short interview at the Probate Registry. The purpose of the interview is to confirm that the details contained in your application are correct.

Receiving the grant of probate

You should receive the grant of probate by post shortly after attending the interview.

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