Applying for Probate

How to obtain probate and make a Probate application

When somebody dies it is necessary for that person’s Personal Representatives to obtain Probate. This means that they need to make a Probate application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration depending on whether the person who died (the deceased) left a Will or not. 

A Probate application can be made by the deceased’s executors or administrators or by a professional on their behalf. 

Before you make the Probate application

Before you make the Probate application to the Probate Registry, you need to assess the size and complexity of the deceased’s estate and whether there is any Inheritance Tax to pay. In order to do this, you will need to collect details of the deceased’s assets, liabilities and lifetime gifts.

The standard Inheritance Tax rate is 40% and is normally only charged on the part of the estate that’s above the Inheritance Tax threshold which is currently set at £325,000. Some estates may be entitled to an increased inheritance tax threshold by using a pre-deceased spouse's threshold if this has not been used by them however certain other conditions apply.

From 6 April 2017, you may get a bigger Inheritance Tax threshold, in certain circumstances, if you leave your main home to your children, grandchildren or their spouse/civil partner.

To work out the size of the deceased’s estate you will need valuations of their assets. This could just include bank and building society accounts, but if they had any investments, properties or other valuable personal possessions, valuations of these will also be needed. All valuations should be at the date of death rather than some other date.

Before applying for Probate, you will also need details of any gifts the deceased made in the seven years before they died or those made at any time where the deceased retained a benefit (e.g. the deceased gave away their home but continued to live there), as there may be Inheritance Tax to pay in respect of these.

Making the Probate application

To apply for Probate without professional help you will need to do the following:

  • Complete Form PA1 (you can contact the Government’s Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline to get help filling in the form)
  • Complete one of the Inheritance Tax forms:
  • Send the Form PA1 and the IHT form to your local Probate Registry together with:
    • The original Will and any codicils (and three copies)
    • An official copy of the death certificate (obtained from the Registrar of Deaths)
    • The Probate application fee of £215 – a cheque made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (there is no fee if the estate is under £5,000). Additional copies of the Grant can be ordered for 50p each.
  • Swear an oath to confirm that the details you have given are correct (this can be done at your local Probate Registry or at a local solicitor’s office)

For more details about the timeframe and costs of the application, please see our 'How long does Probate take?' and 'Probate fees' pages.

Obtaining Probate and Inheritance Tax

Any Inheritance Tax that is due immediately (rather than that which can be paid by instalments at a later date) must be paid before a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration will be issued to you. If one of the deceased’s bank accounts has enough money, it may be possible to arrange for the funds to be transferred directly to HMRC using Form IHT 423. Some Inheritance Tax can be paid in instalments if there is a property or certain types of shares in the estate.

Why do you need to sign an oath to obtain Probate?

When you swear the oath you are confirming that the details you have given in the Probate application are correct. You will be sending the Probate application to the Probate Registry, which is part of the High Court. So the information you provide in the application is similar to giving evidence in court. Swearing the oath is therefore an important part of the Probate application.

The oath needs to be sworn at your local Probate Registry or at a local solicitor’s office. The original Will and any codicils must be incorporated into the swearing of the oath.

The current fee for swearing an oath is £5 plus £2 for each additional document (such as the Will and any codicils). This fee should be paid directly to the person conducting the swear.

DIY Probate

An application to the Probate Registry may be made by a solicitor or Probate practitioner on behalf of the estate's executors or administrators. However, it is possible for executors and administrators to manage part or all of the Probate process themselves, particularly if the estate is small or straightforward.

  • DIY probate

    There are probate services that complete an application for grant of probate within 14 to 21 days 

  • Probate fees

    There is usually an application fee to pay when you apply for probate

  • Probate Registry

    You should send your probate application to your local Probate Registry