Apply for probate in England and Wales

Apply for Probate: The Process.

You can apply for probate yourself or use a professional firm such as us – we are half the cost of many.   Either way, you may find our free video and downloadable guides on how to go apply for probate helpful.

In order to apply for probate there are five essential steps (we’ll go through each step further down the page):

  1. Fill in the probate application.
  2. Fill in the appropriate Inheritance Tax form (a 205 or 400).
  3. Pay any Inheritance Tax.
  4. Send off your application to the relevant Probate Registry.
  5. Swear an oath at the Probate Registry that all the information you have provided is true and complete.  If you are wrong, careless or deceitful – watch out, the penalties are severe, and they come out of the executors own pocket.
Help with Probate
Help applying for Probate

Applying for probate in more detail.

1. The probate application form

You can either:

  • Fill in the probate application for yourself.
  • Call the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline – 0300 123 1072 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm).
  • Call in professional probate help to make sure everything is done properly.

 2. The Inheritance Tax Form.

Before you can fill in the IHT form you have to be sure that you are fully aware of:

  • Everything the deceased owned at the time of their death, including their share of joint assets.
  • Everything the deceased has given away in the last seven years (sometimes the last 14 years) unless it falls within the IHT exemptions.  This includes anything which may have been sold under market value to a connected person, or (for example) giving away one of a pair of vases reduce the value of the estate as they are worth far more as a pair.
  • Any trusts the deceased set up or had an interest in the same time frame. Many savings and investments are in trust, so check carefully.

You must complete an Inheritance Tax form – even if you think no tax is owed.

For low value estates where you are absolutely certain there is no possibility of Inheritance Tax being payable, this may be fairly easy.  But be sure you are right in your assumptions and have proper valuations of anything which could be valuable.

3. Pay Inheritance Tax or agree payment with the Tax-man.

Get confirmation from HMRC to send off with:

4. Send off your application for probate.

Your probate application pack needs to include:

  • Your completed probate application form – the PA1.
  • The completed IHT form and confirmation of payment from the Tax-man.
  • An official death certificates.
  • The original will and 2 photo copies.
  • The originals of any codicils and two copies of each (codicils are changes to a Last Will and testament.)
  • The probate application fee (the application fee is nil if the valuation of the estate is less than £5,000.)

Always apply for extra copies of the grant of probate – they are just £1 each and will make it much easier to collect in the assets of the estate.   Sending one copy of the grant of probate to ten organisations one after another and waiting for each in turn to send it back – if they remember can be incredibly slow and frustration (trade secret!)

5. Swear an oath at the Probate Registry.

You will have to swear an oath –  a ‘promise’ that the information you have given is true and complete to the best of your knowledge.  See penalties above!

  • When you go to the Probate Registry to swear the oath, you will need to take adequate identification with you.   You will need two items such as a fill driving licence and a passport.  If you don’t have these then please make sure what you do have is acceptable well in advance as you may otherwise have to wait several weeks for another appointment with the Probate Registrar.  As professionals, we don’t have to go through this process.

Probate Application Process Complete.

Now you sit back and wait for the probate grant to arrive, normally within two weeks, unless there are any problems, in which case the Probate Registrar will write to you.

Apply for Probate.

Author: Stephen Pett

My job is to ensure that we have a great team of Legal Advisers available to look after our Estate Planning and Probate Clients. Wills, Power of Attorney, Probate, IHT Planning, Trusts, Business Succession Planning - legal planning to protect you and yours.