When someone dies leaving an Estate worth at least £5, 000 an application should be made for Probate (where the deceased left a valid Will) or Letters of Administration where was no valid Will). The application must be submitted to the correct Probate Registry office, depending on where the deceased lived.
Only the Executors named in the Will can apply for a Grant of Probate. If the deceased did not leave a valid Will then they are said to have died Intestate and only a strict list of persons can apply to administer the Estate. They are granted what is known as Letters of Administration’. This list must also be followed where the Executors named in the Will are no longer alive or where Executors may simply not have been named. The Grant in this case is called ‘Letters of Administration with will annexed’ since there was a Will.
An application can be made through a solicitor or in person. If submitting the application in person, form PA1 needs to be completed along with the correct Inheritance Tax form. If there is no tax to pay and the Estate is an Excepted Estate then the correct IHT form is an IHT 205. This form can be sent directly to the Probate Registry along with the PA1. If there is IHT to pay and it is not an Excepted Estate, form IHT 400 must be completed and submitted to HM Revenue and Customs and the IHT liability must be settled. Once the probate application is received, the Probate Registry will arrange an interview time for the applicant to attend their offices. If the IHT 400 was completed, they should return confirmation of receipt of payment from HMRC at the interview. The probate application will not be granted until payment of any IHT due on the estate is settled.
Probate applications can take several weeks to deal with depending on whether there are any queries to be raised by the Probate Registry or whether there are any complicated matters. E. g. , in an application submitted via a solicitor, if the Oath for Executors or Oath for Administrators is drafted incorrectly, the Probate Registry will ask for it to be rectified before processing the application. If the application is straightforward it can take as little as a week or two to process.
Once the Grant of Probate is received it should be sent to all the relevant companies with whom the deceased held assets in order for the assets to be released.