When a person dies in the United Kingdom, it is necessary to apply for Grant of Probate. Who applies depends on whether the deceased left a will or not. Even if the value of the deceased’s estate is below the tax threshold of £5,000, someone will still need to apply for probate.
If there is a will, in most cases, it will be the executors named in the will that apply for Grant of Probate. If there are no executors, it can either be the family’s appointed solicitor or a family member can apply for probate.
If there isn’t a will, the responsibility to apply for probate comes down to a family member to apply for what is called Letters of Administration via the Probate Service. Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration grant the applicant the authority to administer and manage the deceased’s estate.
Applying for probates doesn’t have to be done by someone from the legal profession. A friend or member of the family is able to apply for probate themselves, which is done via the Government’s MyHMCTS system. However, it must be noted that you will need to send certain documents, like the will, by post to the Probate Service offices for them to verify your application.
How to apply for probate
Using the MyHMCTS service is a simple, online way for anyone who is a family member, executor or close friend of the deceased to apply for probate. Since it was launched, around 30,000 probate applications have been submitted.
You can use MyHMCTS to submit probate applications that come 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, you can’t apply for probate online if:
- It is the second grant of probate application for the same estate.
- There is a foreign will.
- The application is accompanied by a document to prove a copy of the will.
- The person applying for grant of probate or letters of administration is under the age of 25 years.
- The probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Acts 1892 and 1927, under rule 39.
The probate application process
Before you start your online probate application process, you will need to set up your user account on the MyHMCTS platform, pay the application fee (if applicable) and know the value of the deceased’s estate. Here are the steps you will need to do:
- Create a MyHMCTS Payment by Account to pay the probate application fee. The fee is currently £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, at which point a £20 fee is charged.
- Then 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 the tax forms IHT400 and IHT421 (depending on circumstances) if tax is due and send them to HMRC.
From this point, you will have to wait 20 working days before you can progress your online probate application process via the MyHMCTS platform. This is because the Probate Service needs to wait for HMRC to send them your completed IHT421 form.
Once you have completed the above steps and waited 20 working days (if applicable), sign in to your MyHMCTS account and commence the process to create a probate case following these steps:
- Click on ‘Create Case’ and 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’.
- Click ‘No’ to the question about being a probate practitioner, at which point you will be prompted to add your name as the executor of the deceased’s estate – only answer yes to this question if there is a will and if you have been named in the will as an executor – or name the person acting as an executor as part of an appointed firm or trust nominee. If none of the above applies, select no.
- You will 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.
- Complete the details in respect of Inheritance Tax and the forms you have 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 to complete different forms.
- You will be asked which probate application you are making, i.e. grant of probate or letters of administration; enter the relevant details. Each type of application has a different set of questions, and you will be taken through them to add all the relevant information.
- Once this is completed, review a legal statement and declaration (you can change this if required). Once happy, send to any other executors (if applicable) to digitally sign unless you are authorised to digitally sign on their behalf.
- 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. 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 – details your probate application reference number. If you don’t have a printer, write the reference number on 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.