How much does Grant of Probate Cost in 2022?

Grant of Probate Cost

When someone dies, their family or executors must apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, depending on whether there is a will or not. Probate is the legal process that any deceased person’s estate goes through, whether there is a will or not.

The size of the deceased’s estate and whether the deceased left a will usually determine how long the probate process takes. But what is the Grant of Probate cost?

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process by which an estate is divided after someone has died, including financial and physical assets, such as property, and how it is distributed to the named beneficiaries. 

Generally, if the deceased left a will that details who is going to inherit what in terms of money, property or any other assets, the probate process can take up to 12 months to complete.  This really does depend on the size of the estate. However, if there isn’t a will, probate can take much longer.  What will delay the process further is if there are any disputes between the beneficiaries or over the administration of the estate, which is known as contentious probate

However, there are cases where probate is not required:

  • If the estate is worth less than £10,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  If the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account, the bank has the discretion to make the decision whether they need a Grant of Probate to release the funds.
  • If any money, i.e. bank accounts or property, is owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner.

In reality, the threshold for probate ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.  Each bank or financial institution has its own policies regarding a deceased person’s assets.

If there is a will, executors will have been named and appointed; it is their job to administer the estate and apply for a Grant of Probate.  The executor can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or the solicitor that holds the will, but it’s better if they are not a beneficiary.  If there is no will or executors, someone representing the deceased will need to apply to the court for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate.  This is usually the next of kin, and they will need to apply for ‘letters of administration’. 

There are other circumstances where letters of administration are required:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

Only the executors of the estate can apply for a Grant of Probate.  If there is no executor of the estate, a next of kin or a close relative has to apply for letters of administration in order to handle the deceased’s estate; they are known as the administrator of the estate, not an executor.

What is a Grant of Probate?

Grant of Probate is the official authorisation from the court that allows the executor(s) named by the deceased in their will to administer their estate. This includes having the assets valued to assess the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) due to be paid, finalising the deceased’s accounts and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the deceased’s will.

Letters of Administration are the same as a Grant of Probate but for the deceased’s estates that do not have a will. The next of kin is granted the authorisation to administer the estate in the same way an executor would do so.

Applying for Grant of Probate Online

Launched in 2017, the online probate service makes it far easier for executors, solicitors and family members of the deceased to apply for a grant of probate, saving time on many of the legal processes.  However, you will still be required to send original copies of the relevant paperwork, including the death certificate and the deceased’s will to the Probate Service.  But the statement of truth can be made online – executors no longer have to visit the probate office to swear their oath. In addition, the grant of probate cost can be done electronically, too.

The legal profession can also apply for intestacy or grant of letters of administration as part of a will annexed application.  It is also possible to stop a grant of probate from being issued, known as a caveat, through the online probate service, if necessary.

The online probate service allows executors, administrators and solicitors to view their probate applications and forms on a dashboard, as well as monitor the process of their probate application.  According to MyHMCTS, the only documentation that needs to be sent to them is the original will, a copy of the death certificate and the Inheritance Tax forms.

Grant of Probate cost

To use the online probate service, a Pay By Account (PBA) account will need to be opened, which links you with MyHMCTS’s fee account system, where you can pay for your online probate application.  Once registered as an executor or administrator, you will be able to start your online probate application.

Once you have had the deceased’s assets – property and possessions – valued and reported to HMRC, you can apply for a grant of probate online.  The current fee is £215, and it can be paid online through MyHMCTS’s when you submit your application.  If the value of the estate is lower than £5,000, MyHMCTS waives this fee.

It is advisable to order extra copies of your grant of probate as they will be needed during the process of administering the deceased’s estate.  There is a cost for this as well, which is currently 50p per copy.

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.

What Happens to a Beneficiary’s Inheritance if the Beneficiary Dies before the Inheritance is Disbursed?

beneficiary inheritance process

It’s far easier for the executors and family of a deceased person if there is a will, especially when it comes to disbursing the estate to named beneficiaries. However, in some cases, a beneficiary may die before receiving their inheritance. This is usually due to the fact that with some estates, probate can take up to a year or longer before the executors are able to distribute it according to the deceased’s wishes.

So, what is the beneficiary inheritance process and what happens if the beneficiary dies before they can receive their inheritance?

What is the beneficiary inheritance process?

The beneficiary inheritance process occurs when someone dies, and their estate goes through probate. Most deceased’s estates have to go through probate and include the administering of all financial and physical assets, such as property, and how it is distributed to the beneficiaries. 

If the deceased left a will which details the beneficiaries of the estate, i.e. who is going to inherit what, the beneficiary inheritance process can take up to 12 months to complete.  However, if the deceased didn’t leave a will, probate can take much longer.  What will delay the process even more, is if there are any disputes between the beneficiaries or over the administration of the estate, which is known as contentious probate

There are cases where probate is not required, particularly since the probate rules have changed recently. These situations are:

  • The estate is valued at less than £10,000, and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  If the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account, the bank has the discretion to decide if they require a Grant of Probate to release the funds to beneficiaries.
  • If there is any money, i.e. in bank accounts, or property is jointly owned with a spouse or civil partner. In reality, the threshold where probate is not required ranges from £5,000 to £50,000.  Each bank or financial institution has its own policies regarding a deceased person’s assets.

If there is a will, an executor, or executors (it is standard practice to have more than one executor), they will have been named in the will by the deceased, and it’s their job to administer the estate and apply for Grant of Probate.  The executor(s) can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or the solicitor that holds the will, but not a beneficiary.  If there is no will, someone representing the deceased will need to apply for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate from the court.  This is usually the next of kin, and they will need to apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’. 

There are some situations where letters of administration are also required:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

What happens if a beneficiary dies before they can receive their inheritance?

In some circumstances, it may happen that a beneficiary dies before the deceased’s estate has been granted probate or before the process of administering the estate has been completed to the point of disbursement of inheritance to beneficiaries.

Generally, if this happens, the beneficiary does not receive their inheritance, and it passes back to the estate to be re-distributed between the other heirs. However, there are some situations where this can cause confusion, such as survivorship conditions.

  • Survivorship conditions – many wills today include a survivorship clause which states that the beneficiary must survive the deceased by a certain period of time, usually 28 days before they can receive their inheritance. If this doesn’t happen, the beneficiary could be treated as though they had died before the deceased. If there is no will, the Rules of Intestacy also includes this cause and means that the deceased’s spouse or civil partner must also survive by 28 days or more to be allowed to inherit the deceased’s estate. In most cases, if the beneficiary has survived the deceased by 28 days but later dies before the estate is finalised, their share of the inheritance usually passes to their own estate and is then subject to the terms of their own will or Rules of Intestacy if no will.
  • Beneficiary dies before the deceased – if a beneficiary dies before the deceased, their inheritance (‘gift’) lapses, i.e. fails, and they do not inherit their share of the deceased’s estate. Their share goes ‘back into the estate’s pot’ and will be redistributed between the other beneficiaries. However, if the deceased thinks this may happen, they are entitled to make a provision for this situation in their will. They can redirect that beneficiary’s share of their estate to another specific beneficiary, such as a charity or another family member. There are also other circumstances when this can happen:
    • The will includes a gift to a child, an adopted child or a grandchild of the deceased.
    • The child dies before the deceased and leaves children of their own.
    • The children of the intended beneficiary are living at the time of the deceased’s death.

In these situations, the inheritance passes to the beneficiary’s children, but this      does depend on whether or not there is an expressed wish to the contrary.

The best option is always to seek professional advice if you think this may happen in your circumstances or you want to make sure your will provides for this potential situation.

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 a 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.

How Much Tax Do You Pay on Probate in the United Kingdom?

tax on probate

In the UK and in many other countries, when someone dies, their estate may be subject to tax. In most cases, that tax due is Inheritance Tax (IHT) which the family of the deceased pay on their ‘inheritance’. However, in some cases, if the deceased’s estate is extensive and incorporates overseas investments or properties, a family business or anything else that ‘earns’ an income, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may also be applicable.

How much tax on probate the family pays on a deceased’s estate largely depends on its total value. The estate includes any pay-outs on life assurance policies, investments, rental properties and cash in the bank. It may be that the deceased’s estate is not liable to pay tax on probate if the value of the estate is below HMRC’s tax threshold.

In addition, following changes to the way Inheritance Tax is calculated from January 2022, the reporting of IHT has been simplified. So, how much tax on probate do you pay in the UK?

What is Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains tax on probate?

Inheritance Tax is a tax on the value of the estate of someone that has passed away. The deceased’s beneficiaries/family is liable to pay tax at a rate of 40% on the estate’s value, over and above the UK IHT tax threshold of £325,000.

For example, if the deceased’s estate is valued at less than £325,000 no IHT is payable to HMRC. However, if the deceased’s estate is valued at £400,000, the beneficiaries/family/executors will be liable for tax on the amount above the tax threshold, i.e. £75,000.

Capital Gains tax on probate is not usually required on the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. However, any assets acquired by the deceased’s estate after death could be liable for CGT; i.e. it is a tax on ‘gains’ usually associated with residential property but it can also be applied to investments and businesses. This means that when the beneficiary or executor sells or gives away the asset, CGT is due on the ‘gain’ in the value of the asset between the date of the deceased’s death and when the asset was sold or given away.

For example, if the value of the deceased’s property was £200,000 upon death, but by the time it was sold, the value had increased to £250,000, the estate (beneficiaries or family) may have to pay CGT on the ‘gain’ of £50,000.

What is the Inheritance Tax threshold?

There is currently only one threshold of £325,000. This is known as the ‘nil-rate band’ (NRB), and an estate that is valued below this threshold does not pay any tax on probate. Estates above the threshold are liable for Inheritance Tax at a rate of 40%. Let’s give you an example:

If your estate is worth £600,000, your IHT is calculated as follows:

£600,000 – £325,000 = £275,000

£275,000 x 40% = £110,000 tax on probate due

Therefore, the deceased’s beneficiaries receive £325,000 + £165,000 (the remainder value of the estate once tax has been paid), which equals £490,000.

However, there are several situations where the Inheritance Tax threshold is different.

  • Married and civil partnerships – if you are married or in a civil partnership and leave your entire estate to your spouse or partner, if one partner dies first, there is no tax to pay, and in most cases, the nil rate band threshold won’t be affected either. This means that the living spouse can add the unused balance of their deceased spouse’s/partner’s threshold to their own, essentially doubling their threshold when they die. However, if the spouse/partner leaves a part of their estate to other beneficiaries, like children, or made a lifetime gift seven years prior to their death, and the estate is of high enough value, Inheritance Tax is due, and a proportion of the nil rate band threshold may be taken.
  • Leaving a property – if you are married or in a civil partnership and leave the family home to your living spouse or a direct descendent, i.e. a child or grandchild only, in its entirety, under current rules there is a further £175,000 tax-free allowance but only if the value of the property is under £1 million. Anything above this value and the allowance drops significantly. The good news is that any unused tax allowance balance can be added to the living spouse’s allowances on their death.

Do spouses and civil partners pay a tax on probate?

In most cases, spouses and civil partners can leave their estate tax-free. In addition, the surviving spouse or partner can add any unused tax-free allowance to their own tax allowances. So, in reality, the deceased can leave their spouse/partner as much as £650,000, or £1 million if it includes a property, without them having to pay any tax on probate.

However, if the deceased spouse/partner used most or all of their tax-free allowance by leaving a proportion of their estate to a direct descendent, the above does not apply.

Tax-free gifts and trusts

It is possible to make gifts to spouses/partners or to charities, which may be exempt from tax, but it does depend on when the gift was made. If it was given at least seven years prior to death – if it’s not gifted to a business or a trust – there will be no tax to pay on the gift. However, if the person dies before the seven years, there will be a tax levy to pay and how much depends on when the person dies during that seven-year period. This is known as IHT taper relief on potentially exempt transfers (PETs).

It is also possible to put assets into a trust that is left to a beneficiary after death. Whilst a trust doesn’t exempt the estate from paying tax on probate, it can go some way to reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax paid. This is because any assets held in a trust, and managed by appointed trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries, are owned by the trust, not the trustees or the person who set up the trust. If you live beyond seven years from the date the trust was established, those assets are not included in the estate upon death and may be tax-free. Instead, a 20% IHT tax levy is imposed when you set up the trust, and every ten years, the assets are revalued, and 6% IHT is paid at the time, minus the nil rate band threshold of £325,000.

Whenever you are writing a will, it’s always important to understand the tax implications on your beneficiaries, family and executors first.

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.

Online Probate Help: General Enquiries Resolved

Online Probate Process

If you’ve not had to deal with a deceased’s estate and apply for a Grant of Probate, it can be a daunting task. These days, you don’t need to go through a solicitor to apply for a Grant of Probate. You can handle the process yourself via an online probate application.

To assist you with the process, here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about online probate help.

What is probate?

Probate is the process of administering a deceased person’s estate (assets), whether there is a will or not, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

What is a grant of probate?

If there is a will, the grant of probate is the legal document granted to the executors of the deceased’s estate that gives them the authority to manage the estate, gather the deceased’s assets, pay any debts and tax liabilities, and distribute the beneficiaries inheritance.

What are letters of administration?

If there isn’t a will, the probate is known as letters of administration and is granted by the court to the person managing the deceased’s estate. Once granted, it works in the same way as a grant of probate.

How long does probate take?

On average, probate takes 9 – 12 months to settle an estate in full. The simpler the estate, the quicker the probate process and, in some cases, it may only take six months. However, if the estate is more complex, i.e. involving overseas assets or businesses, or the will is contested, the process will take longer than 12 months.

Can I apply for probate online?

Yes, you can apply for probate online with the Probate Registry via the MyHMCTS platform. You can complete the online details and send them, along with the probate fee, to start your application immediately. They will also share your application details with HMRC to ascertain how much inheritance tax is applicable.

What information do I need to apply for online probate?

When applying for probate, you will need to have the following information:

  • The deceased’s personal details, including full name and residential address at the time of death.
  • The date the deceased died.
  • The location where the deceased died, i.e. in a care home, a hospital or at home.
  • A copy of the will. (the original will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • The names of the executors, if there is a will or the name of the representative that will be managing the deceased’s estate.
  • A copy of the death certificate (the original will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • A copy of the death certificate (an original copy will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • A copy of the IHT400 inheritance form including the amount of inheritance tax due (the original completed form will need to be sent to HMRC).

How much does the probate application cost?

The current cost to apply for probate online is £273 (with effect from 26th January 2022) if the estate’s value is over £5,000. If the estate is valued at less than £5,000, there is no fee to pay. It can be paid online with your probate application to MyHMCTS. If you don’t want to pay online, you can send a cheque together with a Statement of Truth – this declares, or oath, that the information you have provided is correct – to the Probate Office.

Do I need a solicitor to help with probate?

Officially, no, you don’t need a solicitor to help with probate. However, because probate is a legal process and you are likely to come across a variety of legal terms, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a probate solicitor. They will be able to help you with the administrative forms and details, calculate how much inheritance tax is due (if any) and help you to resolve any disputes.

How does the probate process work?

When someone dies, the executors of the will, if there is one, or family representative, if there isn’t a will, have a short period of time to apply for a grant of probate. Once granted by the court, this gives them the authority to manage and settle the deceased’s estate according to their wishes, if there is a will. If there isn’t a will, the probate process must follow the legal intestacy rules.

What does intestate mean?

If someone dies and hasn’t left a will, they are considered to have died intestate in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act 1987 (Act 81 of 1987). Under the intestacy rules, the deceased’s estate is distributed evenly between the person’s children first. If there are no children, it will go to other descendants. If there are no living relatives, the estate is passed to the government.

Who can apply for letters of administration?

If there is no will, the deceased’s next of kin applies for letters of administration. The next of kin is the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents or siblings. If there are no living relatives, a close friend or a solicitor may apply and are known as the administrator of the estate.

What is the seven-year rule in respect of inheritance tax?

The seven-year rule applies to any gifts the deceased has made in their lifetime before their death. When the gift was made in the seven years prior to death determines the percentage of tax paid by the deceased’s estate.

Managing the estate of a deceased person can be a complex process, particularly if you are not familiar with legal terms. It is always advisable to get good advice from a professional probate solicitor.

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.

How Does Inheritance Tax Taper Relief Work in the United Kingdom?

Inheritance Tax Taper Relief

When someone dies and leaves their assets, an inheritance, to beneficiaries (usually family and friends), they are liable to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT) based on the value of those assets, the deceased’s estate. There are certain tax thresholds and tax reliefs that can be applied which can reduce the amount of IHT to be paid.

One of these tax reliefs is Inheritance Tax Taper Relief, and is applied to any ‘gifts’ the deceased made to family and friends before they died. Also known as the ‘7-Year Rule, what are the criteria for Inheritance Tax Taper Relief and how does it work?

What is Inheritance Tax Taper Relief?

IHT taper relief isn’t strictly speaking a tax relief. In reality, it only reduces the amount of tax payable on an asset, not the value of the asset. For example, if there isn’t any tax to pay on the gift, it is not possible to claim taper relief.

This means that any gift which is part of the IHT threshold, known as the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) – which currently sits at £325,000 per person or £650,000 if it has been transferred to another person – is not subject to tax.

IHT taper relief can only be applied if:

  • The gift was made over three years but less than seven years prior to the deceased’s death.
  • Tax is payable on the gift in its own right, which usually means it is a ‘gift with a reservation’, i.e. the gift is still in use and therefore considered part of the estate.

How does it work?

Any gifts that are given prior to death and subject to IHT; however, how much IHT the receiver of the gift pays depends on how many years before death the gift was given, i.e. it is tapered.

If the gift was given within three years before death, it would be subject to the full IHT tax rate because the taper relief percentage doesn’t start until three years have passed. The taper relief percentages are as follows:

Period between date of gift and donor’s deathTaper relief percentage appliedRate of tax on gift
0 – 3 years0%40%
3 – 4 years20%32%
4 – 5 years40%24%
5 – 6 years60%16%
6 – 7 years80%8%

If the gift was made more than seven years after death, in most cases, there will be no IHT to pay. The value of any lifetime gift is the first subject to the nil rate band threshold of £325,000. It is the amount remaining that can benefit from Inheritance Tax Taper Relief as long as it was gifted at least three years prior to death.

Lifetime gifts that have a value that is below the nil rate band will not benefit from IHT taper relief. In addition, the deceased’s estate will only benefit from the remaining amount of the threshold after the gift’s value has been deducted.

What qualifies as a gift?

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 two years prior to your death.
  • Money; this also includes money that is left over 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.

There are some ‘gifts’ you can make which may reduce the level of inheritance tax payable and, in some cases, result in no tax needing to be paid, such as gifts made to charities or political parties. Gifts made to your spouse/civil partner during your lifetime are exempt from inheritance tax but only if you are legally married or in a civil partnership and they live permanently in the UK. 

Everyone is entitled to make a gift up to £3,000 in any tax year, which isn’t added to your estate and is therefore liable for IHT.  This is called an ‘annual exemption’, and the gift can be made to one person or distributed between different people.  This gift amount can also be carried forward to the next tax year, but only for one year.

The inheritance tax-exempt rule is also applicable to annual birthday or Christmas gifts, up to the value of £250. You can also gift money towards a wedding or civil partnership ceremony. The level of gift can be

  • Up to £5,000 to a child.
  • Up to £2,500 to a grandchild or a great-grandchild.
  • Up to £1,000 to anyone else.

In addition, you are allowed to combine gifts, such as a wedding gift and another allowance, as long as it is for the same person and the other allowance is not the small gift allowance.

You are also entitled to make regular gift payments to help towards somebody else’s living. Called ‘normal expenditure out of income, there isn’t a limit to how much you give as long as you can afford the payments after you have met your own living costs, and it comes from your monthly income. This type of gift can include:

  • Making rent payments for your child.
  • Paying money into a savings account for a child that is under 18 years of age.
  • Providing financial support for an elderly relative.

These gifts can also be combined with other tax relief allowances, such as your annual £3,000 ‘annual exemption’ gift.

If you are giving gifts prior to your death, it is important to keep a full and detailed record of the gifts you have made, including

  • Who you gave them to and what you gave.
  • The value of the gift.
  • When you gave the gift.

The executors of your estate or solicitor that is handling the administration of your estate following your death, will need to know the details of the gifts you made in the seven years prior to your death so that they can calculate how much IHT is due on your estate.

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.

How to Track a Probate Application in the United Kingdom

Track a Probate Application

When a person dies, probate has to be applied for, whether the deceased has left a will or not. If there is a will, the executors will apply for a Grant of Probate. If there isn’t a will, a close relative or nearest family member should apply for Letters of Administration as part of the probate process, which gives them the authority to handle the deceased’s estate.

Currently, the probate application takes 4-6 weeks to receive a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. However, the entire probate process, i.e. from the date of death to the distribution of the deceased’s estate, takes around six months for a simple will and estate. The more complex the estate, the longer it may take. So, how do you track probate applications to monitor progress?

Applying for probate

First, let’s just review how to apply for probate. In most cases, you can apply for probate online via the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, MyHMCTS. To make the application, you will need certain documents and information, including:

  • The original will (if there is one) or annexed will.
  • The death certificate.
  • The deceased’s full name, address and date of death.

Once you have completed your online application, you will need to send the above documents to the Probate Service (MyHMCTS) so that they can verify your online application.

You will also need to complete and send the right Inheritance Tax forms to the Probate Service – these are IHT400 and IHT421 if the estate is over £5,000 and IHT200 and IHT217 inheritance tax form if it is below the value of £5,000 – who will then send them to HMRC for verification. This means that there will be little movement on the progress of your probate application until HMRC have returned the IHT forms.

There are several situations where you can’t use the online service to apply for probate. These are:

  • A second grant of probate application for the same estate.
  • A foreign will.
  • The application is accompanied by a document to prove a copy of the will.
  • The person applying is under the age of 25 years.
  • The probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Act 1892 and 1927, Rule 39.

Do I need to apply for probate?

Generally, if the value of the deceased’s estate is over £5,000, a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is required. 

If the deceased left a will, the appointed executor(s) apply for probate but if there is no will, the next of kin or a close family member will need to apply for Letters of Administration. This grants them the authority to handle the deceased’s estate. 

There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration are needed and these are:

  • One person has been left the entire estate.
  • There are no executors named in the will.
  • The named executors are not prepared to accept the role.

Only an executor of the deceased’s estate can apply for a Grant of Probate. 

However, if the majority of the deceased’s estate is jointly owned with their living spouse or civil partner, such as joint bank accounts or a mortgage, an application for a Grant of Probate may not be required.  Other circumstances when probate is not necessary are:

  • The estate is valued at less than £5,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  Suppose the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account. In that case, the bank has the discretion on whether they need a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to release the funds to beneficiaries.
  • If any money, i.e. bank accounts or property, is owned jointly with a living spouse or civil partner.

If you’re not sure if you need to apply for probate, contact our team at Probates Online to advise you.

How to track probate applications

If you are a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate or family, it is possible to find out if a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been granted, but that’s all you can do. You need to be the person(s) that applied for probate to be able to track the progress of a probate application.

When you create an online account with MyHMCTS, you will create login details for your probate application process. The probate service keeps your record up-to-date with progress and will detail each step as it is completed so that you can track it. Once probate has been granted, it is good to buy a copy of the Grant of Probate (if you didn’t make that request when you applied).

The Grant of Probate will contain information that is crucial to the handling of the deceased’s estate, including:

  • The date of death – this is related to the timings of administering the deceased’s estate.
  • Whether the deceased was domiciled in the UK or not – for any claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975), the deceased must have been domiciled in England or Wales.
  • Whether there is a will or the deceased died intestate (without a will).
  • The names of the executors/administrators who will act as defendants to any claim on a will or estate being contested.
  • The net value of the deceased’s estate.
  • The date probate was granted. Any claims under the above Act must be made within six months of the date probate is granted.

Having the date probate was granted will also give family and/or beneficiaries an idea of how long before they are likely to receive their inheritance.

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 a 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.

Best Guide to Transfer Ownership of a Property after Death in the UK

Guide to Transfer Ownership of a Property

When a relative or friend dies, there may be a property that is part of the estate which has been left in the will to a beneficiary or needs to be sold. The property’s ownership will need to be transferred to either the co-owner, usually a spouse or civil partner, if in both of their names, transferred to the new owner if being sold, or transferred to the beneficiary.

Transferring ownership is changing the name of the owner on the property’s Title Deeds. Different situations, such as whether there is a will or not, and whether the property is tenanted, require different documentation. Here are the steps you need to take to transfer ownership of a property after death.

Transferring a property with or without a will

To transfer ownership of a property after death to a new name is known as a title transfer. However, the process depends on whether the deceased left a will or not. If there is a will, the title transfer will be handled by the executor(s) of the will according to the deceased’s wishes when they have received a Grant of Probate. If there is no will, the Rules of Intestacy will apply, which detail who is allowed to inherit from the estate, and thereby the property, i.e. succession laws, but this cannot happen until Letters of Administration have been granted by the court and an ‘administrator’ appointed.

To transfer the ownership, the executor(s) or administrator of the estate needs complete two forms that are sent to Land Registry, which are:

  • Form AS1 – this form represents the whole of the registered property title and confirms that you, as executor(s) or administrator(s) of the deceased’s estate approve the transfer of the property to the beneficiary, or beneficiaries.
  • Form AP1 – this form is the Change of Register that the Land Registry uses to complete the transfer.
  • Form TRI – if the property is being sold, this form is used by conveyancers to transfer ownership of the property to the buyers. This form registers the property with the Land Registry. However, if only part of the registered title is being transferred, i.e. to a new joint owner, use Form TP1.

A certified or sealed copy of the Grant of Representation – which is the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, a copy of the official death certificate and, in some cases, a copy of the will – must also be sent to the Land Registry with the forms.

Whilst you don’t necessarily need a solicitor to transfer ownership of a property after death, once the new title deeds of the property have been issued by Land Registry, you will need a notary – a qualified lawyer specialising in property law or probate – as they will need to ‘notarize’ the new deeds. Essentially, they act as a legal witness to you signing the deeds, and any accompanying documents, and once signed, they will add a seal to your title deeds indicating the signature is official and legal.

Transferring ownership of a property in joint names

If the property is owned with another person, usually a spouse or civil partner, the property is automatically inherited by the surviving spouse/civil partner, which is called the Right of Survivorship. Although the property’s title deeds already have the joint owners’ (joint tenants) names on the deeds, you will still need to notify the Land Registry of the change in circumstances using the Deceased Joint Proprietor form. This will need to be sent to the Land Registry along with a copy of the official death certificate.

If there is a mortgage on the property, whoever inherits the property also inherits the mortgage. In this situation, the beneficiary must get permission from the mortgage provider to transfer the property into a sole name. They will assess your ability to pay the mortgage repayments before granting permission.

The property may have been owned by joint owners whereby each owner had a share in the property. Known as Tenants in Common, one owner is entitled to leave their share of the property to someone other than the other joint owner, or in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy if there is no will.

Is there a cost to transfer ownership of a property?

Yes, there is a minimal charge to transfer the ownership of a property after death. In some cases, a stamp duty tax is also applied if the property is valued at over £125,000. The costs involved are:

  • Land Registry fee – how much you pay Land Registry to transfer the property into a new name depends on the circumstances, but it is currently £40 minimum.
  • Joint owners fee – for those that are going to be joint owners of more than one property, i.e. the beneficiary already jointly owns one property and the transferred property will also be jointly owned, there is an additional Land Registry fee of up to £150.
  • Notary’s fee – you will also need to pay the notary for witnessing your signature, sealing and notarizing the new title deeds of the property. How much you pay will depend on the notary or complete package service you use.
  • Register the deed – following notarization, you may have to pay another small fee to the Land Registry to officially register the title deed with them.

There is no law to say that you must remove the deceased’s name from the title deeds of inherited property. However, it is recommended to keep the Land Registry up-to-date with any changes of ownership to ensure any future transactions with that property are accurate; for example, if you wanted to sell the property at a later date, transferring ownership to the buyers will be a simpler process for the conveyancers. It is also a good way to avoid being the victim of any scams or fraudulent activity as the Land Registry will be able to track the accurate ownership of the property.

At Probates Online, we offer a complete property title change of ownership service including acting as a notary of the titled deeds. We also provide 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.

Benefits of Using a Will Writing Service in 2022 in the United Kingdom

Will Writing Service in 2022

The pandemic over the past couple of years has certainly highlighted the need to have a will written that details who will be administering your estate should you pass, and who you would like to receive your estate.

Whilst it was reported that there had been a 75% increase in the number of enquiries about a will writing service, new research shows that 61% of adults in the UK do not have a will – that equates to around 30 million people.

The reasons for not having a will are varied, such as cost or the belief that they don’t need a will. But one of the top five reasons is because people don’t know where or how to start writing their will. This is where a will writing service can help you understand your assets and know what needs to be considered in your will.

Why do I need a will?

Let’s start with a question we hear regularly, why do you need a will? Whether you’re in your 20s or 50s, the importance of writing a will is the same. A will can help ensure your loved ones are protected and your estate is dealt with in the way you wish upon your death.

A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes, from the type of funeral you’d like to how you want your estate handled, who raises your children, as well as who inherits your possessions and assets. Because it is a legally-binding document, it is important that it is set out and prepared correctly or it could be considered invalid and your family may be in the position of being unclear of your wishes.

The main reasons for making a will are:

  • To ensure your family and/or children are financially provided for when you die.
  • To name a guardian for your children if they are under the age of 18 years.
  • To provide for other dependents, such as step-children. The law states that only spouses or blood relatives may automatically inherit if there is no will.
  • To protect your partner if you are not married. The law does not take into consideration the length of time you have been together.
  • To protect your family home. If it is in your name, your partner (if not married) and any step-children are not automatically entitled to inherit the property.
  • To avoid family disputes – this may happen if there is no will or if the will is not clear and is contested.
  • To avoid your family paying too much inheritance tax on your estate.
  • To protect a subsequent family should you divorce and remarry. It must be remembered that just because you are divorced, this does not override your will so your ex-partner could still inherit from your estate.
  • To make your own decision on who administers your estate, i.e. your executor(s), although it is only fair to ask them in advance of naming them in your will.
  • To express your wishes on who looks after your pets and ensure they are provided for.
  • To protect any digital assets you may have, which also includes your email and/or social media accounts – you can set out your wishes, such as protect the information or have them deleted/destroyed.
  • To leave a gift in support of your favourite charity.

Why use a will writing service?

Of course, you are entitled to write your own will; will writing packs are available to buy. However, if you want to make sure that your will is written and prepared correctly, or if you have a large, complex estate, it is highly recommended that you use a will writing service.

There is a general misconception that only a solicitor is able to write a will on your behalf. In reality, that’s not true. An accountant is also able to write a will or you can use a specialist professional will writing service, particularly if you’re not sure how wills work or what needs to be included. 

There are a variety of benefits to using a will writing service including:

  • Will writers are there to provide professional advice and support as well as answer any queries you may have.
  • Ensure your will is legally binding to avoid any disputes between members of your family, including making sure it is signed and witnessed correctly.
  • Prompt you when it is time to review and/or update your will should your circumstances change. People’s situations change as they grow older so, it is a good idea to review your will on a regular basis to make sure it still reflects your wishes, is still valid, and encompasses all of your estate.
  • To make sure your will abides by any recent changes to rules and regulations surrounding wills and estate planning, such as the way inheritance tax is reported from 1st January 2022, the rise in the cost of the probate fee, and the rules around remote witnessing of wills which is no longer allowed.
  • Provide advice on who to choose as your executor(s) or they are able to take on the role of executor of your will, thereby avoiding any conflict of interest should your executor also be a beneficiary.
  • They are able to better manage and advise on how to write a will for large, complex estates including overseas investments and business assets.
  • Ensure that all areas of your estate have been considered including any funeral instructions, gifts to charity, your beneficiaries, care of your pets, guardians for your children and any smaller, more sentimental items.
  • They are able to look after your will, as well as important documents, such as title deeds, or know where they can be found.
  • Help you determine a value for your estate’s assets, such as cars, property or art, should it be needed for tax purposes.

You might think that because you are young, unmarried and have no children that you don’t need a will. However, you still have assets; like a car, jewellery, possessions, money in the bank, insurance policies, a pension and possibly a life insurance policy, too. By ensuring you have a legally binding will written by a will writing service, you can be sure that your wishes will be adhered to should you die. If you are older, are married and do have children, the sooner you make a will the more peace of mind you have.

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.

Benefits of a Complete Estate Service at Probates Online

Complete Estate Service

Managing the estate of a loved one, a friend or a colleague, whether you are a spouse, family member or executor of the will (if there is a will), can be challenging. There are so many aspects to consider, paperwork to complete, tax obligations to pay; and that’s on top of having to make funeral arrangements and distribute assets to beneficiaries.

If the deceased left a detailed will and estate plan that sets out their wishes and how they want their estate to be distributed, the process should be fairly simple. However, in most cases, even if a will has been left, there are other factors that can be difficult to understand.

Hiring our complete estate service will relieve the burden and offer all the assistance you need. Whether you or the executor has already obtained Grant of Probate or not, when you use our complete estate service you remain the executor; we just administer the entire estate on your behalf.

Our Complete Estate Service

From the day we take your instructions, we are acting on your behalf. Our service goes beyond just handling the paperwork. Our service covers:

  • Confirm the eligibility of the executors and apply for Grant of Probate (if required).
  • Review the validity of the will and other related documents, like an estate plan.
  • Consider inheritance tax reliefs potentially applicable to the estate.
  • Assess the nature, extent and value of the estate’s assets and liabilities for inheritance tax purposes.
  • Liaise with HMRC regarding the valuations of the estate’s assets and/or liabilities that we have supplied or retrieved.
  • Collect the estate’s assets, close accounts and discharge any liabilities of the estate.
  • Liaise with asset holders on your behalf.
  • Arrange insurances for any property that needs to be safeguarded during the administration period.
  • Liaise with the Department for Works & Pensions regarding any liability arising from overpaid benefits or the ineligibility of benefits due to an oversight in providing full disclosure of capital or income.
  • Liaise with charities and their designated offices on your behalf (if required).
  • Discuss with HMRC the basis of calculation of any past, current or future liability for inheritance tax, capital gains tax, income tax or any other taxes following application for probate.
  • Arrange for any statutory notices required to be published in The Gazette and local newspapers to protect you from any challenges to the estate (the advert fees are charged at cost).
  • Arrange for the final distribution of the estate to entitled beneficiaries.
  • Prepare final estate accounts covering the period of estate administration.
  • Stop any unwanted mail addressed to the deceased and safeguard against identity theft.

At all times, we will keep you fully updated on the administration process and are always on hand to provide with support and advice. It is worth noting at this point that there are some situations that are not covered by our complete estate service, including:

  • A dispute about the will or questions on its validity;
  • A beneficiary being left out of a will deliberately by the deceased and they want to make a claim;
  • Assets held in a trust or the will states that a trust must be created;
  • An insolvent or bankrupt estate;
  • The deceased either lived abroad or died abroad; and
  • The estate includes property or assets that are foreign to the UK.

However, we are able to investigate and handle these matters on your behalf, if required.

Benefits of using an estate administration service

There are a variety of benefits to using an estate administration service, including:

  • They will help shoulder the burden of managing the deceased’s estate.
  • They are specialist probate solicitors who thoroughly understand administration process.
  • They are legal professionals and will understand the legal jargon that is used in much of the documentation.
  • They are able to liaise with HMRC, insurance companies, pension providers and other representatives in settling any liabilities attributed to the estate. This includes closing any relevant accounts and obtaining life insurance funds on your behalf.
  • They fully understand the different tax liabilities that an estate incurs, including any potential tax reliefs that can be applied to reduce the tax burden.
  • They will complete and file all the necessary documentation on your behalf, including applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (if no will has been left by the deceased).
  • They will ensure that all the relevant tax exemptions and reliefs have been applied, that HMRC’s tax calculations are accurate and ensure payment deadlines are met.
  • They will collect all the estate’s assets, obtain valuations (if necessary), and distribute the assets in accordance with the deceased’s wishes in their will. If no will has been left, they will organise the equal distribution between family members.
  • They will prepare and submit final estate accounts that details all estate transactions/payments, assets sold and distributed, debts settled and other related costs.

Probate can be a time consuming, lengthy process, sometimes taking as long as a year or more depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate. Whilst you and the executors are entitled to manage the administration by yourself, any mistakes made in tax calculations or incorrect information on documentation will not only delay probate, you or the executor could be held financially or legally responsible for the error.

As well as supporting you throughout the probate process, we are also able to advise on any other legal matters relating to the deceased and their estate.

When you use our Complete Estate Service, our specialist probate solicitors will take responsibility for their work, relieving you from any legal or financial burden.

At Probates Online, we offer 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.

Types of Wills – Which Type of Will Do You Need?

Types of Will

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted many aspects of our lives, none more so than the need for making a will. However, the latest research from Canada Life shows that 59% of UK adults have not written a will – that’s 31 million people whose estate could end up in the hands of someone not of their choosing.

But when it comes to writing your will, it can be hard to know which type of will you need as there are four different types of will in the UK – single, joint (mirror), living and trust wills. So let’s take a closer look at the different types of will, what they should include and which one is right for you.

Do I need a will?

First, let’s answer a common question. In a nutshell, yes, you do need a will if you want to decide who gets what from your estate on your death.  But that’s not the only reason; a will can also be used to ensure that should you not be able to take care of yourself and make your own decisions at some point in life, your affairs and wishes are taken care of during your lifetime.

A last will and testament is one of the most important documents in your estate planning and it is up to you who benefits from your estate, and who manages the distribution of your estate when you die.

Types of Will

Different types of will have different purposes; wills are drawn up to not only cover how your assets are distributed upon your death but can also include your funeral plans, the beneficiaries for any special items or sentimental or personal value – such as family heirlooms – and some wills also cater for your healthcare wishes if you are incapacitated and are unable to make your own decisions. Which will is suitable for your needs depends on your circumstances.

  • Single (simple) will – probably the most well-known, common will that is used by an individual that details their wishes upon their death. It can be used by anyone that is single, divorced or in a relationship where their wishes are different to that of their partner/spouse. This type of will is also used by people that have children from a previous relationship and wish to divide their estate between children/spouses from both relationships. However, in these circumstances, you may find that a trust will is more appropriate.
  • Joint (mirror) wills – this type of will is for couples, whether it is your spouse, your civil partner or the person with whom you have a long-term relationship, that have the same wishes upon their death, hence the term ‘mirror’. Whilst two wills are drawn up by your solicitor (or yourself), the wills are almost identical. There are several things to be aware of if you decide to have a joint will:
    • Upon the death of one spouse, the entire deceased’s estate passes to the surviving spouse.
    • Upon the death of the surviving spouse, the estate is distributed in accordance with the joint wishes specified in the will. This could create a problem should the surviving spouse remarry or commit to another long-term relationship as any step-children will be omitted, or there are children from a previous marriage.
    • There has to be an element of trust between spouses/civil partners as there is no guarantee an estate will be passed on to the people you wish.
    • Because the two documents of the will are drawn up at the same time, either party is entitled to change their will at any time and they legally do not have to advise the other party of the change. Therefore, you may find that a trust will is a better option.
  • Trust wills – there are several different types of trust wills, depending on your needs, and they provide greater flexibility over who benefits from your estate, which can be broken down into property and assets. A trust will can also detail how the estate is managed upon your death if the beneficiaries are below a certain age, and your wishes in terms of your healthcare and welfare[1] .
    • Discretionary trust wills – this type of will puts a proportion of, or the entire estate into a trust that is managed by your appointed trustees upon your death. A discretionary trust will name the beneficiaries of the trust, which may be receiving an income from the trust until the beneficiary reaches a certain age or to look after a beneficiary’s health and welfare, such as a child or adult with a disability. The trustees must manage and administer the trust according to your wishes, although they do have some discretion. In addition, it can protect beneficiaries from paying too much tax and from creditors should a beneficiary be in severe debt.
    • Property trust wills – this type of trust will work in a similar way to a discretionary trust will but holds your property (or properties) in a trust from which a beneficiary can receive an income. For example, a surviving spouse would receive an income from the property trust and also be able to continue to live in the property but on their death, the assets pass to other beneficiaries as stated in the trust will.
    • Flexible Life Interest trust will – again, this is similar to the other types of trust will but provides greater flexibility in providing an income from the assets protected in the trust. Therefore, should you have a spouse that needs ongoing care or there are care home fees to pay, the trustees have greater control on how and when the trust funds are released. Whilst these types of trust do protect from Inheritance Tax, both Capital Gains Tax and Income tax will still apply.
  • Living will – lastly is the Living will which is also known as Advance Decisions because this type of will details any care and medical treatment you may require in the future, should you be in a position where you can’t make those decisions for yourself. This can include life-support, being put on a ventilator or CPR as well as treatment for long-term illnesses, such as Parkinson’s or cancer.

All wills must be signed by the testator (the person making the will) in front of at least two witnesses, who will also sign the document as confirmation they have seen the testator signing the will. 

As well as the above types of will, which are the most common, there are also two other types – holographic wills are handwritten wills and oral wills, which are also called ‘nuncupative’ wills.

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 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.