When someone dies and you’ve been named as the executor in their Will, you’ll need to get legal permission to deal with their property, money, and belongings (or ‘estate’).
To do this, you’ll need to apply for a document called a Grant of Representation – also known as ‘probate’. Financial organisations will often request this before they will unfreeze any accounts.
We’ve broken down the process of applying for probate to help you through what is bound to be an emotional time. If you have any questions during the process, you can get in touch with our professional probate experts for further support and advice.
- Value the size of the estate
First, you’ll need to value the size of the estate. This consists of three main tasks:
- Find out information about the deceased’s assets and debts
You’ll need to get in touch with banks to find out about any accounts, investments and savings the deceased had. You’ll also need to contact any organisations they might owe money to, such as energy suppliers and creditors.
Any property will also need to be valued. If Inheritance Tax is likely to be charged (estates valued at £325,000 or over), it’s best to go through an estate agent in case HMRC challenge the figure you’ve given.
- Estimate the gross value of the estate
This is the value of any assets, as well as any cash gifts given in the seven years before the deceased passed away. You’ll need to calculate this to work out whether Inheritance Tax is payable.
There are exceptions to Inheritance Tax – gov.uk site explains this in more detail.
- Report the value to HM Revenue and Customs
Once you’ve gathered all the relevant information, you can tell HMRC the value of the estate. You can do this by filling out an online form on the gov.uk website.
- Complete a probate application form
- Complete an Inheritance Tax form
After valuing the estate, you should have a rough idea about whether Inheritance Tax is due. Even if you think no Inheritance Tax is owed, you’ll still need to fill in a form. Read our guide about How to complete an Inheritance Tax form to find out which form you’ll need.
If there is Inheritance Tax due, you’ll normally have to pay a portion of this upfront before you can receive a Grant of Representation. If you pay this from your own bank account, you can claim it back from the estate or beneficiaries later.
- Send your application
You’ll need to send off your probate application form to your local Probate Registry, with the following documents:
- Inheritance Tax form
- Original copy of the death certificate
- Original Will, plus three copies of the Will and any Codicils (amendments to the Will)
- A cheque for the application fee made payable to HM Courts and Tribunal Service (check the latest probate fees on the HMCTS form finder)
You can also request additional copies of the grant of application for 50p each. Having a few copies means you can send off the grant of application to several organisations at the same time.
- Swear an oath
Finally, after completing the forms, you’ll need to swear an executor’s oath. This is a promise that all the details you’ve provided are true. The probate office will send you an oath and explain how to arrange an appointment. You can swear an oath at a local probate office or at a commissioner for oath’s office (such as a solicitor’s office).
If your application is approved, you should receive the Grant of Representation in the post within 10 days of swearing the oath. You can then send it off to the financial organisations who have requested it.
For more support and advice during the probate process, get in touch with our experienced solicitors.
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.