How to apply for Probate

How to apply for Probate

Probate (or confirmation in Scotland) is the system you go through if you’re handling the estate of someone who’s died. It gives you the legal right to distribute the estate according to the deceased’s wishes. Inheritance Tax forms are part of the process even if the estate doesn’t owe Inheritance Tax.

The probate process – at a glance

Here is an overview of the steps to take in England and Wales, with more detail in the sections below. Again, the process differs in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • Value the estate and speak to the deceased’s banks and other financial organisations to establish whether you need a grant of representation (or confirmation).
  • If you do need a grant of representation, complete the relevant application and Inheritance Tax form – the Inheritance Tax form will vary depending on whether or not the estate owes Inheritance Tax.
  • Send the forms to the relevant government bodies (in England and Wales, that’s the Probate Registry and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)).
  • Pay whatever Inheritance Tax is due.
  • Attend in person at a Probate venue or at the office of any commissioner for oaths (usually a solicitor’s office) to swear an oath.
  • Wait for the grant of representation (or confirmation) to arrive in the post – banks and other organisations will ask to see this before they allow access to the deceased’s assets.
  • Pay any debts owed by the estate and then distribute the estate.