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How To Apply For Probate – A Complete Guide

Probate can be a sensitive subject for many as it is part of the legal process after someone passes away. In this post, we will discuss a variety of questions we are commonly asked around probate, including how it works, what it costs, and how to apply. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your local Eric Robinson Solicitors branch, request a call back or fill out a contact form. 

What is probate and how do you apply?

The UK government defines probate as “the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die.” Applying for probate varies slightly depending on whether there is an existing Will or not, of which both scenarios will be discussed below.

Applying for probate where there is a Will in place 

If there is an existing Will, the process of applying for probate is likely to be straight forward. Either the executor of the Will or a dedicated probate solicitor can apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate, which formally appoints the executor of the Will to administer estate. If there are multiple executors, you will need to contact the other parties to agree on who will apply for probate. If contact is unsuccessful, you can still apply, you will just need to show evidence that you attempted to contact them. 

Once the Grant has been received, and after any inheritance tax is settled, the remaining assets and property illustrated in the Will can be distributed to the named beneficiaries. 

Applying for probate where there is no Will in place 

You can still apply for probate without a Will. If this is the case, the closest living relative who is deemed the ‘most entitled’ person should be the person to apply. If this person does not want to apply for probate, they are able to nominate another person. If the most entitled person does decide to appoint a new power of attorney, a PA12 form needs to be completed, whereby up to four people can be nominated. They are then in a position to apply for probate on your behalf, and manage the estate for you. It is worth noting that unless you have formally chosen to give up your right to manage the estate, you are not forfeiting your personal power of attorney and can take it back at a later date. 

The new power of attorney will then be able to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Once granted, the Intestacy Rules determine how the estate is to be divided.

How long does a probate application take?

Securing a Grant of Probate usually takes somewhere between 3 and 18 months, but this timeline depends on a variety of aspects, such as the value of the estate and number of assets.

How much does probate cost? 

If you are applying for probate in England and Wales, the basic application fee is currently £273, but only if the value of the estate is £5,000 or more. If the estate is valued below £5,000, there is no fee. If you choose to appoint a solicitor to ensure a smooth process, there will be an additional cost to cover this. 

You can request extra copies of the Grant of Probate, which are £1.50 each. If probate has already been granted, a second application can be made, costing £20 (if done personally by the executor).

Who can apply for probate? 

As previously discussed, if a Will is present, an executor can apply. If there is no Will, the closest living relative, also known as the ‘most entitled’ person, can apply, or they can appoint someone as power of attorney to do so on their behalf. 

Why you should apply for probate

There are a number of reasons why it is important to apply for probate. It is required in a number of circumstances, including (but not limited to):

  • Managing or selling property that the deceased owned with someone else as tenants in common
  • Managing large assets owned solely by the deceased 
  • To sell any house that is owned solely by the deceased
  • To manage or cash-in premium bonds worth more than £5,000.

There are also additional benefits to probate, such as:

  • It means that the correct beneficiaries inherit assets or estate if there is no Will
  • It provides protection from property being taken by unauthorised individuals
  • It ensures that debts and taxes are paid, leaving no uncertainty for the beneficiaries moving forward
  • It can be a more favourable option for smaller estates.

What do individuals need to apply for probate? 

There are a number of documents required in order to apply for probate. These will need to be submitted to the Probate Registry. You will need to supply these yourself if you are planning on applying without the help of a solicitor. If you choose to employ a probate solicitor to manage the process for you, they will help you source some of the below documentation:

  • A copy of the deceased’s death certificate
  • The original last Will and Testament of the deceased with any codicil
  • Probate application form PA1P
  • Inheritance tax form

Can probate be contested? 

Yes, it is possible to contest probate. In order to do so, you must either be: a family member, owed money by the deceased, a beneficiary of the Will, were made a promise of assets that was not written in the Will, or were dependent on the deceased but have not been provided for in the estate. There may also be circumstances where the validity or interpretation of the Will is disputed or there’s discrepancy in relation to the value of the assets. Find out more information here about Will, probate and estate disputes

How Eric Robinson Solicitors Can Help

For further support around probate, including how Eric Robinson Solicitors can help you, visit our dedicated probate solicitors page

We have solicitor offices in Southampton (Hedge End & Bitterne), Winchester, London (Richmond), Chandlers Ford and Lymington. Contact Eric Robinson Solicitors today for expert probate & estate advice on 02380 218000, or simply fill out our contact us form.