Common Misconceptions About Probate Online and the Truth Behind Them

Misconceptions About Probate Online

It’s never easy having someone close to you die, there is a lot that goes through your head and dealing with their passing can take a great deal of time. This process is made even harder thanks to some of the logistical issues that are thrown up when a loved one passes. For instance, if you have been named as the executor in somebody’s Will, then you will be responsible for valuing their estate, settling the necessary outstanding liabilities and distributing the remaining assets accordingly.

One of the things you will need if you have been appointed the executor and want to start completing your duties within the Will is a grant of probate. This can be relatively difficult but there are now websites available such as Probate Online that can help smooth out the process. There are many misconceptions which surround obtaining a grant of probate and also obtaining a grant of probate online. Misconceptions about Probate Online are going to be discussed in more detail below and you must familiarise yourself with them to make the whole process as smooth as it could possibly be.

Why Don’t People Like the Topic of Probate?

Probate tends to be a topic that a lot of people aren’t keen on thinking about. This is because the process is conceived as being complicated and it conjures up different images of Dickensian-style courtrooms, elongated Will readings and complex legal procedures. The reality is actually a lot different. Getting a Will doesn’t need to be a complex process, in fact, these days it is so straightforward that it can be done online. There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding the process and these are going to be discussed in more detail below.

Common Misconceptions

So, what are some of the most common misconceptions about obtaining probate?

  • It Only Refers to a Single Thing

There tends to be a lot of confusion surrounding what probate actually is in the first place. This is fair enough given the world refers to two different things, which are:

  1. A grant of probate; and
  2. The entire process needed to wind up an estate, from the initial assessment, valuation and selling of assets.

A grant of probate is a document that you, as an executor, will need to obtain which proves that you have the legal authority to administer an estate. You can apply for one of these online on Probates Online, where experts will be happy to guide you through the process and make obtaining your grant as simple as possible.

  • You Always Need Probate

There are a lot of situations where it is going to be necessary for you to apply for a grant of probate, but that doesn’t mean that this is necessarily going to be the case all of the time. The same applies for working online, even though the process becomes simpler, that doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to do it when distributing every kind of estate. Some of the circumstances in which you might be able to administer an estate without worrying about applying for probate include:

  1. The assets which belong to the estate are owned jointly with somebody who is still alive.
  2. There isn’t any property owned by the estate.
  3. The total amount of money contained within the estate is relatively small and banks and building societies have indicated that they will be able to release said funds without seeing a grant of probate.

It’s worth noting that if there is property contained within the estate then you are definitely going to need to apply for a grant of probate. You are also going to need to apply for probate if the bank or building society where the deceased keeps money has indicated that it is going to be necessary to do so. This is the case even if the money contained within these accounts is relatively small, the decision is the banks and this varies depending on which one you’re working with.

  • There’s No Need to Obtain Probate If There is a Will in Place

It doesn’t matter whether or not there has been a Will left for the estate, though this will impact certain parts of the administration process, obtaining probate isn’t one of them. You need to apply for probate regardless of whether or not there is a valid Will in place. If there isn’t a Will then the only difference will be that the Grant of Probate will be referred to as Letters of Administration, which do the same thing.

  • Anybody Can Apply for Probate Online

Only certain people have the right to administer an estate and as such, this means that only certain people have the right to apply for Probate as well. This is the case if you apply physically and if you apply online. There is a common misconception that anybody can apply for probate online but this is simply not the case. The only people who have the ability to apply for probate are people who have been named in the Will as an executor.

Alternatively, if a valid Will has not been left then there are still specific rules which impact who can apply for letters of administration. The closest relative to the deceased should be the only one who can apply for Letters of Administration.

Why You Should Use Probates Online

As can be seen above, the process of obtaining probate can be complex, in small part thanks to the number of misconceptions that surround it. As such, you should consider working with experts who are going to be able to guide you along the way, such as those at Probates Online. Our team will discuss your situation with you and provide advice on the best way that you can move forward. If you have any questions or require any further information then do not hesitate to get in touch and we will be able to help.

How to Avoid Inheritance Affecting Benefits in the UK?

Avoid Inheritance Affecting Benefits

If you inherit some money or property or other assets once a loved one passes away, and you are on benefits, then these benefits may well be affected. It all comes down to what kind of benefits you claim and how much you have in your savings; some won’t be affected at all, but then there could be an impact for others. Throughout this article, we will talk in more detail about how your inheritance could affect the benefits you claim and whether there is anything you can do to avoid such an impact.

Have You Received Inheritance Whilst on Benefits?

The reason why different benefits can be affected by you receiving an inheritance is that many of them are means-tested. This means that once the income or savings you have exceeds a specific threshold, the benefits you receive will either reduce or cease altogether. The different means-tested benefits that will be affected by your inheritance include the following:

  • Universal Credit
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefits
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Council Tax Support
  • Child Tax Credit

If you have received any kind of inheritance, you need to let the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) know if your savings have increased. If not, there could be serious ramifications, including a fine and a potential prison sentence. On top of that, it could be the case that you cannot claim further benefits for up to 3 years.

What Makes Up Your Savings?

Given that your savings greatly impact whether or not your benefits will be affected by your inheritance, you should calculate your current savings. Savings are classed as money you can get hold of easily or any kind of financial product you could sell quickly. These include the following examples:

  • Cash Savings: Fairly self-explanatory; cash savings are any savings in your bank account or building society account. They also include any other type of account that pays you interest.
  • Investments: Your investments are a saving product that gives you a return on your money; these include stocks and shares within an ISA or a unit trust.
  • Repayments on Your Mortgage: Your mortgage repayment includes any money you pay every month to reduce the amount of your overall mortgage loan, for instance, if you have some kind of flexible mortgage.
  • Premium Bonds: Your premium bonds consist of national savings and investment products that pay out various prizes instead of paying interest.
  • Rent Payments: This is money you pay monthly to live in somebody else’s property.
  • Council Tax Payment: This is the amount of money you pay yearly to help you cover the costs of any council tax payment.
  • Other Regular Bills: These vary from person to person, but some of the most common include utility bills, mobile phone contracts and car insurance.

What Are the Savings Limits on Different Benefits?

Different types of benefits have different savings limits attached to them. Means-tested benefits have a lower capital limit of £6000 and an upper limit of £16,000. This limit is commonly referred to as a Savings Credit threshold.

  • Universal Credit

If you (or your partner) have less than £6000 in income or savings, then your ability to claim these benefits will not be affected. That being said, if you and your partner have savings that come to more than £16000, you can’t claim Universal Credit at all.

  • Housing Benefits

If you have reached the State Pension age, then the £6000 limit doesn’t apply to you unless you also claim housing benefits with somebody under the State Pension age. If you are over the State Pension limit, you can have up to £10,000 in savings before the housing benefit is affected. After that, for every £500 over the limit will count as £1 weekly income. Finally, if you claim pension credit, you can save up to £16,000 before any claim to your benefits is affected.

  • Tax Credits

Your tax credits are not affected by your savings as they are based on the amount you have earned in previous years rather than what you are making now.

  • Pension Credit

Your overall capital will not affect your Pension Credit unless you have over £10,000 in assets. If you have over £10,000 in assets, then for each £500 you will be considered to have an income of £1 a week. This will be added to other forms of income, which will impact your pension.

What If You Inherit a House Whilst on Benefits?

If you don’t inherit money but instead inherit a property, this isn’t likely going to affect your benefits; however, it’s more likely that you will pay inheritance tax. There are several different ways that you can try to avoid paying inheritance tax, but the fact is that if the value of the estate goes above the nil rate band, inheritance tax will be due.

Applying for Probate Online in the UK: How to Avoid Delays

Applying for Probate Online

There are several different things that need to be done when a loved one passes away. If you have been left in charge of executing the will, you will already know that one of those things is obtaining probate. This can be tricky for many reasons; however, one of the main ones is that there are several different circumstances that can lead to delays. Throughout this article, we will discuss the probate process in more detail and provide information on how to effectively avoid delays.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person. This means that you will be responsible for organising their money, as well as their possessions and assets, before distributing them as an inheritance (once you have settled all liabilities and taxes of said deceased person). If the deceased has left a Will, it will likely name the person they would like to be in charge of administering their estate. This person is known as the executor, and it will be up to them to obtain a grant of probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

Before starting the process, the executor will need to apply for a grant of probate. This legal document will give them the authority necessary to deal with the property and other assets of the deceased. As soon as all of the debts and taxes have been paid, the inheritance will be passed on, and once this is done, probate ends.

Applying for Probate

The probate process is relatively simple in theory, especially if you work with online organisations that will assist in obtaining said probate. The basic process includes the following steps:

  • Gather all of the details of the estates, assets and debts
  • Apply for the initial grant of probate (which will give you permission to administer the estate and pass out all of the inheritance)
  • Complete a tax return for inheritance tax and then pay off any of the tax which is due
  • You should then receive your grant of probate
  • Once you have your grant you will be in a position to repay the outstanding debts of the deceased
  • Distribute the rest of the estate as per the conditions laid out in the will

How Long Does Probate Take?

The process as a whole will usually take about a year; however, this all depends on the size and complexity of the deceased’s estate. International probate is relatively complicated, and then there are also often disputes which arise between the executor, creditors and beneficiaries. These (amongst other things) can lead to delays in the overall process.

Recent Delays in the Probate Service

Delays have become more frequent recently, much to many people’s annoyance. Some of the main reasons behind these delays are that, throughout the past 18 months or so, the way the probate service operates has been changing so it can better suit the needs of its users. These changes include creating a new style of probate certificate and allowing legal professionals to access an online probate service for 24 hours every day.

Whilst these changes sound good, as of this year, there has been an increase in the delays experienced by people applying for probate. This is thanks to a migration to a new back-office system, resulting in the loss of several days worth of working time.

Staff need to learn how to use the new system, and there has been an increase in the number of people applying for probate. There has been about a 50% increase in requests, which has led to delays across the country.

Current Waiting Times

The delays mean that the waiting time for a grant of probate is longer than people are used to. HMCTS has confirmed that these times are roughly six to eight weeks. However, there are exceptions to this rule, with several applications taking even longer than that. These delays can be attributed to missing documents, procedural defects or the need for further information.

What Can You Do to Avoid Delays?

If you need to apply for probate and want to limit these delays as much as possible, then you will be happy knowing you can do plenty to avoid them. HMCTS is working hard to limit the backlog and has provided advice for people to follow that might help them reduce waiting times and subsequent delays in grants as much as possible. Some of these include:

  • Ensuring that you are providing the form for inheritance tax when you initially submit your application
  • Double-checking all the different names that are on the application form to check that they are the same as the names in the will
  • Ensure the executors are accounted for
  • Making sure the statement of truth is signed
  • Making sure all of the different forms are signed
  • Sending the correct fee

Do You Need Help Applying for Probate?

If you are trying to apply for probate and need some help, then you will be happy to know that at Probates Online, we can assist over the internet. Simply reach out, and our team of experts will be able to help you move forward in a way that will avoid delays. If you have any questions or require further information, do not hesitate to get in touch.

How to Find the Best Offer on Probate Properties in the United Kingdom

Best Offer on Probate Properties

A lot of people purchase properties in the interest of living in them and having somewhere that they can call home. That being said, this isn’t always the case, as many individuals will consider buying a property as a form of investment. If you have ever thought about doing this and looked into it, then chances are you will have heard about purchasing properties on probate. Doing this can be a good call as you can save some money, and the transaction can be done quickly and easily. So, how do you find some of the best offer on Probate Properties in the UK? This is going to be covered in more detail below.

Finding a Probate Property

First things first, you need to know different points of contact where you will be able to locate different probate properties. These are:

  • Your Local Real Estate Agent

You will have estate agents local to you who specialise in probate properties, so it’s a good idea to reach out to them and see if anything has come up. Give them a call, and let them know what kind of property you are looking for and what budget you are working with. Having an estate agent you can work with is beneficial, given they will contact you as soon as somewhere becomes available, meaning you can make an offer quickly and get a good deal.

  • Search for Different Online Listings

There are a number of different websites online that specialise in probate properties and as such, you should browse and find the right websites which show places in your area. They are advertised in the same way as any other home, so you can find them on popular real estate sites too, but if you want to narrow your search, then be sure to include the word “probate” when looking at listings. If you want to get a good deal, then look for homes that were listed more recently; if they were, then they are unlikely going to have any offers already made against them.

  • Check the Court’s Website

Another option available to you is to check on the probate court’s website, as they usually have probate properties on there. Search “probate court” and then include the area you would like your property to be in. These homes typically go for sale in auctions which are open to the public. All auctions will be listed on the website. The properties can go for cheap on these websites, but the auctions happen quickly, so you need to be on the ball as you won’t have a lot of time to do your research.

  • Do a Walkthrough of the Property You’re Interested In

If you have found a property that you’re interested in and you have time to do so, you should ask the relevant agent if you are able to do a walkthrough of the property. These homes usually need some work, so look out for this and weigh up whether or not the repairs necessary make economic sense. You will likely need to update and remodel the property; that’s a given, but just make sure they are updates that will be affordable and worth it. You should note that you don’t always get the option to do a walk-through of a probate property, so if this is the case, then ask for plenty of pictures of the inside, and outside of the property so you know exactly what you’re buying. If the pictures don’t give a clear reflection of the property, then you might want to have a look for something elsewhere.

How Can You Make an Offer on a Probate Property?

So, once you have found the property which you are most interested in, how can you make an offer on it? The truth is, there are a few different ways, which include:

  • Make an Offer to an Estate Representative

Once you have had a good look at a property and are happy that you want to go through with the purchase, simply make an offer to the estate representative. You will need to submit this offer in writing, or if you have an agent working on your behalf, then they will be able to submit the offer for you. If the offer is accepted, then the agent will file a petition with the court to notify them of as much, and a hearing will be set for about a month after that petition is filed.

  • Pay 10% Cash Deposit

You are expected to put down a cash deposit as soon as the offer is accepted. This is a good way to guarantee the sale is going ahead and is one of the reasons why the sale of probate properties goes through so quickly. Keep in mind that even if you have a contract with the owners, the judge still has to approve the sale itself. This sets buying probate properties apart.

  • Attend the Court Hearing

When an offer is accepted, that doesn’t mean that the house is necessarily yours. A probate judge will need to approve the sale before the property becomes your own. On top of that, the probate hearing is a good chance for others who are interested in the property to outbid you. This is known as the overbid process, and it works in the same way as an auction. It’s worth noting that if you haven’t made an offer, you can still attend the hearing and place bids, but you likely won’t get the best deal if you do this.

Do You Need Help with Probate Properties?

If you need some assistance with purchasing probate properties then you will be happy to hear that there are different sites out there which can assist. If you work with us at Probates Online we can provide advice on where to look for different properties and provide information on the process. If you have any questions or would like any further information, then do not hesitate to get in touch.

What is a Grant of Confirmation & How Does it Work?

Grant of Confirmation

When you lose a loved one, this can be a very difficult time. What can make it even harder is that if you were particularly close with the individual, a lot of the time, you don’t even have a chance to mourn as you need to deal with their assets. Doing this can be a challenge, especially if the deceased had large sums of money or property. If this is the case then it is likely you’re going to end up having banks and investment companies that insist on seeing Confirmation before releasing whatever sums they have to the beneficiaries of the estate. This won’t often be required but in case it is, this article will talk about it in more detail as well as how it works.

What Is a Grant of Confirmation?

Confirmation is a legal document which authorises the executor of a will to begin administering the estate of the deceased. If you require confirmation, this is granted by the Sheriff Court as soon as any inheritance tax that needs to be paid. When you apply for confirmation you’re going to need to send off the will of the deceased.

What if There Isn’t a Will?

A lot of people pass away and don’t leave behind a Will. If this happens, then it means that there isn’t an executor laid out, and as such, one needs to be appointed before a grant of confirmation can be issued. It is also often the case that a Bond of Caution needs to be issued too, which is an insurance policy which will protect the executor if they distribute the estate incorrectly.

What Needs to Be Included in the Application for a Grant of Confirmation?

When you are attempting to get a grant of confirmation, the process involves filling out an application. The specifics of this process are going to vary depending on the value of the deceased’s estate. Regardless of whether or not there is an inheritance tax that needs to be paid, a full collation of all of the inventory of the estate will have to be done. This inventory cannot be brief, and there will have to be valuations in it, as well as confirmation of the date that those valuations were made. Essentially, a run-down of everything the individual owned at the time of death needs to be put together. When this has been done it is a lot easier to understand whether the deceased had a large or a small estate.

When all of this inventory has been put together, the executor of the will is going to need to sign and approve the necessary forms that have been put together by HMRC. These are either going to be filed to the Sheriff Court or to HMRC, depending on whether or not there is any inheritance tax due on the estate.

Do I Need Assistance When Obtaining a Grant of Confirmation?

The short answer is no, you don’t need formal assistance when it comes to obtaining a grant of confirmation. That being said, it may well be the case that you want to enlist the help of some professionals because of the fact obtaining a grant of confirmation can be quite a tricky and intricate process, which you probably don’t want to go through alone once you have lost a loved one. You might be able to get the assistance of Sheriff Clerks as well depending on the value of the estate but this isn’t always the case.

Confirmation in Small Estates

If the total sum of the estate ends up coming to less than or equal to £36,000 then this is when a Sheriff Clerk is going to be able to assist you. They will assist by providing a helping hand with putting together all of the inventory necessary to apply for a grant of confirmation. Even though they will provide assistance, the process can still be reasonably daunting, and as such, if you would like guidance that is more hands-on and less clerical, then it could still be worth getting in touch with someone.

Confirmation in Large Estates

If you have an estate that exceeds £36,000 then the official recommendation of the Court is to seek legal advice. You should keep in mind that this is only a recommendation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important that experts have some kind of say in your application process for a grant of confirmation. Again, if you are processing the death of a loved one, then dealing with large sums of money on your own probably isn’t the best thing, and you might have better peace of mind if you ask for help in distributing the estate to the correct beneficiaries.

What Happens Once a Grant of Confirmation Has Been Obtained?

Once you have finally received your grant of confirmation, the deceased’s belongings are finally able to be released. This means the executor of the will can distribute them in line with whatever was laid out in the Will (or whatever the relevant laws state if no Will was left).

Administration work will also then begin, which involves the likes of paying off debts, working out what is owed to which beneficiaries and sorting out inheritance tax (if it has to be paid). These steps are all relatively complex which again is why it could be worth seeking the help of experts.

Do You Need Assistance with Administering an Estate?

If you currently find yourself in the position where you need some help with administering an estate, then it could be worth speaking to us at Probates Online. Our team of experts will be able to help you with any query that you may have to make the whole process easier. If you would like further advice or have any questions whatsoever then do not hesitate to get in touch.

Do I Need Probate if I have a Will?

Grant of Letters of Administration

There seems to be an assumption that probate is not needed on their loved one’s estate if there is a will in place; however, the fact is this makes no difference. Whether or not there is a will, probate may still be needed. There is no catch-all answer as to whether it is necessary or not. Probate refers to the process of someone being granted permission and named as the legal authority to wind up the affairs of a deceased person. The document that grants this is known as the Grant of Probate if there is a will, and the Grant of Letters of Administration if there isn’t one. These documents essentially work in the same way.

As such, when people say whether or not probate is needed, the above is what they’re referring to.

When is Probate Required?

Whether or not probate is required will depend entirely on:

  • How assets are being held, which will be either in joint names or in the sole name of the deceased
  • How much the assets are worth

Joint or Sole Ownership of Assets

One of the best places to start when you are working out whether or not Probate is required is to make a list of all the assets owned by the deceased. After you have your list, run through it and determine whether assets were held solely or jointly.

When you have assets that are jointly owned, they can be held in one of two different ways:

  • Joint Tenants
  • Tenants in Common

If assets are held as a joint tenant with an individual who is still alive, then that asset will automatically pass to the co-owner as per the Right of Survivorship. Probate is not required if this method is used for the deceased’s assets.

When an asset is held as a tenant in common, it will not pass down by the right of survivorship. Instead, they will pass to whoever will inherit them as per the deceased’s will (or, if there isn’t a will, the Rules of Intestacy). There’s a chance that probate will be required for these assets, but it depends on their value and who is inheriting them.

If the assets in question were solely owned by the deceased, their value must be determined. If the value of a particular asset is more than the probate threshold (see below), then probate is needed to sell or transfer the assets.

If you are struggling with working out whether or not you need probate for the above, then you may want to visit Probates Online, which will be able to assist with the process.

Asset Value

Even in circumstances where the deceased person owned an asset in their sole name, probate may not be necessary if the asset’s value is low. This is because most banks and financial institutions are happy to release funds held by the deceased if they were worth less than £5000. This is a general rule, but every bank makes a minimum probate threshold at their discretion, so it is worth checking their position on the matter.

If the assets fall under this threshold, then the deceased has what is known as a Small Estate, and in these circumstances, probate isn’t necessary. It can be difficult to figure out what will be considered a small estate as every bank will have its limitations.

If it turns out that the deceased owned assets worth more than the threshold, then you will need to go through the probate process. Chances are if an individual owned a property, then this will fall over the probate threshold, and therefore, probate will be necessary.

Is There a Valid Will?

Whether or not there is a valid will in place will have no impact on whether probate is required. That being said, you still need to find out whether or not there is a will in place; this is because a will is going to name the executors, and the executors will be responsible for distributing the estate. If the executor named in the will decides they would not like to take on the role, then a priority order is established that confirms who can apply.

If there is no valid will in place, there is a law established within England and Wales that determines who the beneficiaries are. These laws are called the Rules of Intestacy and will determine who should be in charge of administering the Estate.

Is Probate Necessary if there is a Will in Place?

There seems to be a common misconception that having a valid will in place will affect whether or not the assets of a deceased person will go into probate. This isn’t the case, and the circumstances surrounding whether or not assets will go into probate are whether they were in a joint name and how much they are worth.

There are some instances where, if an asset is held in joint names, it will simply pass to the co-owner. In other circumstances, the deceased’s share will pass to their beneficiaries; if this happens probate may be needed.

The estate’s value also determines probate; if it is not worth very much, then it won’t be necessary; however, if it exceeds the probate threshold, it will be.

If you have any questions about probate, whether it’s necessary and what your next steps should be, then do not hesitate to contact probates online. Our team of specialists are on hand to assist with any and every query you may have, so do not hesitate to contact us.

Where to Find the Online Probate Application & How to Apply for Probate

When someone dies and leaves a will, it is the duty of the deceased’s family, solicitor or executors to officially apply for authorisation to administer the deceased’s estate. Whether the estate is valued below or above the Inheritance Tax threshold, grant of probate is still required.

If the deceased did not leave at will, a family member or solicitor will need to apply for letters of administration, which comes from the court, which gives that person the authority to administer the estate of the deceased.

You can apply for Online Probate Application via the government’s MyHMCTS platform, whether it is grant of probate or letters of administration, although you will still be required to send the relevant documentation by post.

Applying for probate online

MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service) was established in 2018 as part of the courts reform and to speed up the probate process when someone dies. Using the MyHMCTS service provides for a simpler, online method to apply for probate by either family members or executors of a deceased, as well as by legal probate specialists. Since its inception, around 30,000 probate applications have been submitted; 4,466 probate specialists have registered to use MyHMCTS and 92% of users have been satisfied or very satisfied with the service.

You can use MyHMCTS to make probate applications that fall under:

  • Deceased’s estates that have a will (grant of probate).
  • Deceased’s estates without a will (letters of administration).
  • Deceased’s estates with an annexed will (letters of administration).

In some cases, it is not possible to apply for probate online, such as:

  • It is a second grant of probate application for the same estate.
  • When there is a foreign will.
  • When the application is accompanied with a document to prove a copy of the will.
  • When the person applying for grant of probate or letters of administration is under the age of 25 years.
  • When the probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Acts 1892 and 1927, under rule 39.

How to apply for probate online

Before you or a professional is able to start the online probate process, there are several steps that need to be taken first. You will need to:

  • Create a MyHMCTS Payment by Account in order to pay the probate application fee. Currently, the fee is £273 for estates that are valued in excess of £5,000. For estates valued below this figure, there is no fee, unless it is a second grant pertaining to the same estate when a £20 fee is charged.
  • If you are a probate specialist working for a firm, you will need to register your firm with MyHMCTS before you can proceed.
  • You will also need to set up your MyHMCTS user account.
  • If the deceased’s estate is valued over the current Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold of £325,000, you will need to complete forms IHT400 and IHT421 (depending on circumstances) and send them to HMRC. You will not be able to apply for probate online via the MyHMCTS platform for 20 working days. This is because the Probate Service needs to wait for HMRC to send them the completed IHT421 form.

Once you have completed the above steps, and waited 20 working days (if applicable), you will be able to sign in to your MyHMCTS account to create a probate case following these steps:

  1. Start your online probate application by clicking on ‘Create Case’. From the drop down menus, select the Jurisdiction, i.e. ‘Manage probate application’, choose the case type, such as ‘Grant of representation’ and then select the State. Once completed, click on ‘Start’.
  2. You will be asked for your organisation’s details, i.e. whether you are a probate practitioner. If you answer no to this question, you will then be prompted to name the executor – only answer yes to this question if there is a will and the person applying has been named in the will as an executor – or to name the person acting as an executor as part of an appointed firm or trust nominee. If none of the above apply, select no.
  3. You will now be asked to complete the deceased’s details, including their full name on the death certificate, their date of birth and date of death, their permanent address at the time of their death and whether they had any assets in another name.
  4. On the next screen will be the details in respect of Inheritance Tax and the forms completed, depending on whether the deceased died before 1st January 2022 or after this date. If the date of death was after 1st January 2022, new regulations mean that you may have had to complete different forms
  5. You will be asked which probate application you are making, i.e. grant of probate or letters of administration, and then enter the relevant details. Each type of application has a different set of questions and you will be taken through a set of different screens to add all the information.
  6. Once this is completed, you will be required to review a legal statement and declaration (you can change this if required). Once happy, send to other executors (if applicable) to digitally sign, unless you are authorised to digitally sign on their behalf.
  7. You will then be asked to pay the probate fee and if you require additional copies of the grant of probate/letters of administration. It is always a good idea to purchase a few extra copies at £1.50 each. Then submit your application.

Although you have applied for probate online, you will still need to send physical documents to MyHMCTS for them to verify your application. These documents include:

  • The original will (if there is one) or annexed will.
  • The coversheet from your online application – you will need to print this – that details your probate application reference number. If you don’t have a printer, write the reference number of a sheet of paper.
  • IHT205 and IHT217 inheritance tax forms if the estate is below the value of £5,000.
  • A copy of the signed legal statement and declaration.

Always make sure you keep copies of the documents you are sending and despatch using Royal Mail’s recorded delivery service. If you are sending a notarial copy or a court-sealed copy of the will, you will need to send a cover letter as well that details where the original will is being kept and the reason why it is not being released. Your probate application should be completed within 8-12 weeks.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration, or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Documents Required When Applying for Probate in 2022, in the UK

Documents Required for Probate

Applying for grant of probate when someone dies is a legal process and as such, certain documents are required. As well as the probate forms, there is other documentation that needs to be sent to the Probate Registry, as well as to HMRC, banks and building societies, utility companies and insurance companies.

The probate process is currently taking 10-12 weeks in the UK, but it can take longer depending on the circumstances, such as whether there is a will or not, the size and complexity of the deceased’s estate, and the right documentation being completed and submitted on time.

How to apply for a grant of probate?

You will need to apply for grant of probate within 6 months from the date the deceased died which gives executors of the deceased’s will the authority to manage their estate. But first, let’s give you an overview of how to apply for probate. Due to the recent coronavirus pandemic, you are now able to apply for probate online. Which forms you complete digitally depends on whether the deceased left a will or not, and whether the person applying is the executor or a relative of the deceased.

However, even if you apply online to the Probate Registry, you will still need to collate and send in the post (or take by hand if that’s possible) the relevant documents required for probate.

Documents required to apply for grant of probate online

The grant of probate is a legal document from the court that authorises the executor(s) to administer the deceased’s estate. An executor is not allowed to proceed with estate management without this documentation so the sooner you can apply for it, the better. To apply online, you will need the following documents with you:

  • Death certificate – you will need a copy of the death certificate, or coroner’s certificate, that confirms the date of death.
  • Deceased’s will – you will need a copy of the original will, as well as any codicils (these are additional changes to the deceased’s will), and any lists or other documents referred to in the will. The executor(s) will also need to initial the original will before they apply for probate.
  • Inheritance tax return – you will need to submit a completed and signed inheritance tax return. This doesn’t mean that inheritance tax must be paid before you apply for probate, but it does mean that the form should be completed and signed by the executor(s) or the person acting on behalf of the estate.
  • Photographic ID – to confirm your identity, you will need a certified copy of your photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence.
  • Application form – this is only necessary if you are applying for probate by post (or in person). It is worth getting the completed application form checked by a probate specialist to ensure that it is accurate. Any errors or missing information, such as a signature, will mean that the probate application, and therefore process, will be delayed.
  • Court fee – you will need to pay a fee to apply for probate, which is currently £275 if the value of the estate is estimated to be over £5,000. For any estates that are lower than this value, there is no fee charged. It is always recommended to get extra copies of the grant of probate, which are charged at £1.50 per copy, so you can send a copy to other organisations that ask for it.

As well as this documentation, there is specific information you will need to know to complete the grant of probate application. These details are:

  • Whether the person that has died had a will made outside of Northern Ireland.
  • The marital status of the deceased.
  • Details of the assets held by the deceased in the UK and abroad, including Northern Ireland.
  • Confirmation the deceased’s name is on the title deeds of the property, or properties, if a property was owned by the deceased.
  • Whether all the named executors are applying for grant of probate. Executors are entitled to renounce or reserve their power. If an executor has died prior to the deceased’s death or grant of probate, this can be detailed in the application.
  • Whether the executors named in the will have sufficient mental capacity to apply for probate and administer the deceased’s estate.
  • The names, occupation and addresses of all the executors (or administrators; if there is no will, a relative or friend of the deceased will need to apply to the court for letters of administration, naming them an administrator who can manage the estate) applying for grant of probate.
  • The mobile number and email addresses of all executors or administrators applying for grant of probate, if applying online.

In some cases, other documents may also be needed, such as:

  • Executor(s) renounce or reserve of power forms.
  • A certified copy of Foreign Grant or Foreign will if any foreign assets in the deceased’s estate, or the will itself, is outside the UK.
  • Registered Enduring Power of Attorney.
  • Completed Power of Attorney form.
  • A certified copy of the Controllership Order.
  • Any court order that has been made in respect of the deceased or their estate, such as the appointment of an administrator.

You can also apply for grant of probate by post by downloading the relevant forms, depending on whether there is a will (Form NIPF1) or no will (Form NIPF2), completing them and sending to the Probate Registry office in London together with all of the above relevant documents. Again, if you’re not sure about any information you’ve used to complete the form, and to make sure it is accurate, ask a probate specialist to check. It is always recommended to send the application and related documents by registered or recorded post for safety.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Should I Use a Last Will or a Living Trust to Distribute My Estate?


Even if you didn’t think a will was important in the past, the last 18 months of Covid-19 will undoubtedly have changed your mind! But the other topic that’s being discussed at length is trusts. Both are legal documents that detail how you want your assets to be distributed but there is a fundamental difference between a trust and a will.

Whilst estate planning via a will is vitally important, a trust could be just as beneficial, if not more so; or, indeed, combining the two may be the ultimate solution. So, to help you decide whether you need a will, a trust or both, let’s clarify what a will is, what a trust is, and how they may be beneficial for you.

What is a last will?

A last will details your wishes and who benefits from assets and/or property, i.e. your estate, after you die. In the majority of cases, you will appoint an executor, or executors, in your will and it is their job to manage your estate upon your death, including selling any property, paying outstanding bills, as well as dealing with HMRC to pay any inheritance tax due. One thing to point out; before you assign an executor(s) to your will, make sure you have asked that person, or persons, if they are happy to take on the role as it is demanding and involves a lot of paperwork!

You are only allowed to include any assets or property that you own, i.e. they are in your name only. So, if the property you live in is jointly owned with your spouse or partner, it will automatically revert to them upon your death.

What is a living trust?

A living trust is a form of will in which your beneficiaries will benefit from your property and/or assets but while you are still alive. You appoint trustees to oversee the management of the trust and hold legal title to the assets defined in the trust upon your death. There are a number of reasons why you may choose a trust over a will, including:

● You’d like your beneficiaries to benefit from your assets while you are alive, i.e. paying school fees
● You want to protect your property and/or assets from paying less, or no, inheritance tax
● Your beneficiary is not able to fully benefit from your assets as they are incapacitated.

Differences between a last will and a living trust

The main difference between a last will and a trust is that a will only comes into force when you die, whilst a trust can start to benefit your chosen beneficiaries while you are still alive.

The main benefits of a will over a trust is that you can name guardians for any minor children, appoint an executor to handle your estate upon your death to relieve the burden from your loved ones, and detail your final wishes.

Just because there is a last will doesn’t mean the executors of your will don’t have to apply for probate. If your estate is valued at more than £5,000 in total, they must apply for probate. If there are very few or no assets in your estate and its value is less than the £5,000 benchmark, probate is not always necessary.

With a living trust, you maintain control over the trust and how it is managed until your death, at which point the appointed trustees take over and administer the trust according to your wishes. For example, if a beneficiary receives an interest payment from the trust and it is your wish that they don’t have access to the trust in full until they are 21 years of age, but you die before they reach this age, the trustees will continue to ensure the interest payments are made until that person reaches 21 years old.

Assets in a living trust are not part of the probate process and are therefore protected from inheritance tax. In addition, jointly owned assets and property can also be included in a trust, whereas they can’t in a last will.

Whereas a last will ‘leaves’ assets and property to a beneficiary and is therefore subject to probate as well as inheritance tax, assets and property in a living trust are owned by the trust, i.e. they have been transferred to the trust. This means they are not subject to probate as they can’t be ‘passed on’. The grantor is a trustee of their own living trust and manages the assets and property within it until they die, at which point successor (named) trustees take over the role. They will administer the trust and either continue its management for a period of time or distribute its property to your named beneficiaries in the trust documents.

Because of the probate process, your assets and property detailed in a last will are a matter of public record. It is filed at the courthouse and anybody can access the details. However, a trust is a private record that only you, the appointed trustees and the beneficiaries have access. The only time that this would change is if a beneficiary or heir challenges the trust’s validity and files a lawsuit, at which point the trust documents become evidence.

Can I have a last will and a living trust?

Estate planning via a will is just one option of protecting your assets and property upon your death and ensures the people you wish benefit actually do. But combining it with a living trust, particularly if your estate is large and complex, ensures the best financial and legal protection for your estate.

However, to combine the two, it’s better to have a Pour Over Will which is designed to specifically work with a living trust. Essentially, it means that any assets or property you own that isn’t included in your trust will be transferred to your trust upon your death.

If you’re not sure what type of will or trust is right for you, contact us at Probates Online. We offer a professional online probate service that is efficient and affordable. If you are an Executor of a will or a trustee, or a close relative of a deceased person and you need to apply for a Grant of Probate, or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Inheritance Tax: How Does It Affect You?

Inheritance Tax

When you pass away and leave assets to family or any other beneficiaries, they are liable for paying tax on those assets, known as Inheritance Tax (IHT).  However, it is possible to significantly reduce the amount of IHT payable or, indeed, pay nothing at all depending on the value of any assets, known as your estate.

How much is inheritance tax?

How much IHT your beneficiaries pay largely depends on the value of your estate, or your assets which include any investments, life insurance policy payouts, property and even cash in the bank. 

If the total value of your assets is less than £325,000, your beneficiaries will not be paying any inheritance tax.  But if your assets value is above this threshold, they will pay 40% on the value of the assets above the threshold.  For example, if your estate is valued at £500,000 and your threshold is £325,000, you will only pay IHT on the estate value above the threshold, i.e. £175,000.

However, there are exceptions to this basic rule.

  • If you leave your entire estate that’s above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse or civil partner, charity or a community amateur sports club, your beneficiaries will not pay IHT.
  • If you bequeath your home to your children, and this includes children that are fostered, adopted or stepchildren, the threshold may increase to £500,000.
  • The IHT rate will drop to 36% on some of your assets if you choose to bequeath at least 10% of your estate’s net value to charity.

Inheritance tax for married couples

If you are in a civil partnership or are married the thresholds are different. If you die before your spouse:

  • Assets left to your spouse/civil partner are exempt from IHT, if they are living in the UK.
  • Any assets above the threshold are passed on to your spouse and added to their threshold, as well as their main residence allowance.  So, potentially, your spouse’s/civil partner’s tax-free threshold level could be as much as £1 million.

Inheritance tax relief

There are various exemptions and tax reliefs that may apply to your estate, such as the nil rate band (NRB), taper relief and business property relief. 

  • Residence nil rate band (RNRB) – any part of the estate that is over the nil rate band (NRB) – every person’s threshold of £325,000 – that is passed on to the spouse/civil partner, as well as any gifts, can be passed to the surviving spouse/civil partner and is exempt from IHT.  In April 2017, the residence nil rate band was introduced and is an additional amount to the NRB, which can be transferred.
  • Taper relief – it is applicable when inheritance tax is due to be paid on a ‘gift’ that was granted 7 years prior to your death.  Essentially, any gifts passed on before your death are subject to IHT but the longer it is since you made the gift prior to your death, the amount of tax your beneficiary has to pay is based on a sliding scale, i.e. it is tapered.  For example, a gift made 3 years before your death is liable to 40% tax.  Gifts made 7 years before you died are tax-free unless they are part of a trust.  Known as the 7-year rule, you must keep a record of what you gave, how much it is, when you gave it and who you gave it to, and your executors must know these details as well.  However, a ‘gift with a reservation’, i.e. the gift is still in use by you, is considered part of your estate.
  • Business property reliefbusiness property tax relief can reduce the amount of IHT paid on any business assets, such as shares, buildings or any business machinery.  If you own a business, or are a partner in a business, it forms part of your estate on your death and your beneficiaries will be liable for tax on that asset.  However, it is possible to reduce the amount of tax paid by claiming business relief by 50%, or even 100%.  For example, if you are a sole trader and bequeath your business to family that’s valued at £400,000, the £325,000 threshold applies and is eligible for business property relief on the remaining £75,000; therefore, zero tax is paid. However, if you only owned 50% shares in the business, i.e. voting rights, or 50% shares in an unlimited company, i.e. 50% of the land, buildings and/or equipment/machinery, only 50% business relief is claimable. 

How do gifts work in terms of inheritance tax?

There are some ‘gifts’ you can make prior to your death which will reduce the level of inheritance tax payable and, in some cases, mean no tax is paid.  A gift includes:

  • Personal items, such as jewellery or antiques.
  • Household items, such as furniture.
  • Property, including a house, buildings or land.
  • Stocks and shares, as listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Unlisted shares, i.e. shares in an unlimited company, if you have held them for less than 2 years prior to your death.
  • Money; this also includes money that remains should you sell a gift for less than it is worth.  For example, if you sell your property to a spouse or child for less than the market value, the monetary difference is considered a gift.

Gifts do not include any assets you leave to beneficiaries in your will.  Those assets, such as cash in the bank, possessions and any other property, are considered part of your estate and are valued accordingly for inheritance tax purposes.

Any gifts to your spouse/civil partner during your lifetime are exempt from inheritance tax as long as you are legally married or in a civil partnership, and they permanently live in the UK.  In addition, any gifts to political parties or charities, if they are before your death, are exempt from IHT.

Every person is allowed to give away up to £3,000 worth of gifts in any tax year and they won’t be added to their estate, and therefore be liable for IHT.  Known as an ‘annual exemption’, you can gift £3,000 to one person or distribute the amount between different people.  You are also allowed to carry it forward to the next tax year, but only for a single year.

This inheritance tax exempt rule also applies to annual birthday or Christmas gifts, up to the value of £250, as well as gifts towards a wedding or civil partnership ceremony.

At Probates Online, we are able to offer a professional probate service online that is efficient and affordable.  If you are an executor of a will and need to apply for a Grant of Probate or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.