Filing for Probate, a basic guide to what you need to know.

Filing for Probate, a basic guide to what you need to know.

Filing for Probate, a basic guide to what you need to know by Kristina Kennedy-Aguero

Filing for Probate is a legal process that gives a person the right to deal with the money and property, (the estate) of a person who has died.

Visit the Gov.UK website for complete instructions on Applying for Probate

When is filing for probate not necessary?

1. If the deceased had land, shares, property or cash that are jointly owned. In this case, their estate passes automatically on to the surviving owners.

2. If the deceased only left savings.

Who can file for probate?

If the deceased left a legal will, the named executors can apply. Up to four executors can be named on the probate application.

If the person who has died did not leave a will, their nearest living relative can apply for probate. Usually, this is the husband, wife or civil partner. Next in line are children aged 18 or over. 

You must apply for probate before you can access the money of the deceased or put any of their properties or possessions on sale.

Inheritance tax

Before applying for probate, you must make an estimate of the total value of the estate. This will determine if there is inheritance tax to pay.
To do this, you will need to contact banks, and building societies, to investigate the deceased's savings, investments, loans and mortgages. utility providers, and such. This will allow you to assess what the deceased owned and what he owed, and the value of the estate.

Most estates do not pay inheritance tax. Tax is not due if the estate passes to the deceased's spouse or civil partner. Also, if it goes to a charity or an amateur community sports club. Additionally, if the total value is less than £325,000 there is no inheritance tax. Furthermore, if the home is going to the deceased's children or widow, the threshold may be higher.

Use the online Inheritance checker to help you to establish the value of the estate and assess if Inheritance tax is due.

If Inheritance Tax is due you will need to send full details of the estate.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to send full details even if there is no tax due.

If there is tax to pay you can not apply for probate until 20 days have passed from sending the tax forms to HM Revenue and Customs.

Filing for probate

As an executor, the deceased will have informed you where to find their will. Commonly they will have put the will in a safe place in their home. Alternatively, their solicitor may be holding it. Make sure that you have the latest version of the will. However, you must not destroy earlier versions until you receive probate.

You must send the original will with the application for probate. You can not use a photocopy. The will becomes a public record and the probate registry will keep it.

If you have problems understanding the will your local Citizens Advice can help. Alternatively, you can seek the advice of a probate practitioner usually a solicitor, but you will have to pay for their services.

If you are unable to locate the original will, you must fill in a PA13 form.

How much does it cost?

If the estate is worth less than £5000 there is no fee to pay when applying for probate. For an estate valued at more than £5000 the application costs £273.

You can apply either online or by post and it usually takes around 8 weeks to grant probate.