Getting and filling out probate forms can be emotional, but it doesn’t always have to be a complicated process. In fact, you may be able to do everything yourself.
Probate – officially named ‘grant of representation’ – puts one person in control of a deceased person’s assets. This lets them distribute the estate, as well as pay any outstanding bills or tax.
Applying for probate takes three steps:
- Fill in and send the probate application form.
- Fill in and send the Inheritance Tax form.
- Swear an oath.
You can do all of these yourself, or you can work with a solicitor to make the process more straightforward. This guide will explain how to get hold of the relevant forms, how to fill them in, and some of the tasks that will need to be carried out to be granted probate.
How to fill out the probate application form
You can download the probate application form PA1 from Justice.gov.uk, or call the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline on 0300 123 1072 to have a form posted to you.
When you fill in the form it’s helpful to have all the relevant information in front of you, as you’ll need to include:
- Where you will swear your oath.
- The personal information of the deceased: full name, address, birth date and date of death.
- Information about any other name they may have held assets in, such as a nickname or abbreviated name.
- Relevant information if they were adopted or adopted any children.
- Their marital status.
- Information about any divorce or legal separation they may have had at any time in their life, including the court that granted the divorce.
- If they have a will, if it ever had any amends, and when it was written.
- Details of anyone named on the will as executor who is not applying for probate.
- Foreign domicile in the case of anyone not domiciled in England or Wales.
- Ages and numbers of relatives, alongside numbers of any deceased relatives, and their children.
- Personal information from you and anyone else who’s applying: full name, address, contact information, relation to the deceased person.
- A checklist of information that you have already sent or will be sending in support of your application.
There is also a section for your solicitor to fill out, if you use one. If you don’t know important information about the deceased, a solicitor may be able to help you.
How to fill out an inheritance tax form
The law states you need to send a probate application and an inheritance tax form together – even if you don’t think there will be any tax to pay.
It needs to show how much the deceased person’s estate is worth. That value will dictate how much tax will need to be paid. Filling out this form incorrectly will incur a hefty penalty, so it’s important it’s accurate.
To calculate the estate’s value, you need to:
- Calculate the value of assets and ‘gifts’ over the value of £500 that have been given in the previous seven years of the deceased person’s life – you should consult a professional valuer to do this.
- From the total of the above, subtract all debts that still need to be paid.
- If the value is more than £350,000, you may need to pay inheritance tax – fill out an IHT400 form.
- If the estate value is less than £350,000, you shouldn’t need to pay inheritance tax – fill out an IHT205 form.
It is highly recommended you consult with a solicitor for this part of the application, as they will know exactly where to look and what to include, and can help you avoid inaccuracies.
There are two different forms to choose between once you’ve calculated the estate’s value:
Sending your application
Your application needs to be sent to your local Probate Registry, which can be found using the government’s court and tribunal finder. Make sure to include:
- Your probate application form.
- Your inheritance tax form.
- A copy of the death certificate – this must be the original, and not a copy.
- The official will, three copies of the will, and copies of any amendments or additions (also known as codicils).
- The fee of £215, which should be paid by cheque to HM Courts and Tribunals Services. However, you don’t need to pay a fee if the value of the estate is £5,000 or under.
Once the probate office has received your application, they will send you an oath, along with details of how to arrange when and where you’ll take it. When this has been done, you’ll usually receive your probate grant within 10 working days.
Would you like help with wills, probates, or estate planning?
Our guides to writing a will, writing a living will and applying for the power of attorney can help to break down these processes into simple steps that can help to make this emotional time a little easier to deal with.
Personalised, professional legal advice is always recommended, to not only make the process simpler for you and your family, but to ensure that these important documents and applications are accurate and comply with the law.
Our will, probate and estate solicitors have a huge amount of experience dealing with all sorts of situations, whether it’s disputing a will or probate, or simply ensuring that a loved one’s wishes are followed. Get in touch today, and we’ll give you the guidance you need.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone.