In the UK, if a deceased person’s estate is in excess of £5,000, which it usually is if there is a property to be included in the value of the estate, the executors will have to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to manage the estate, settle any tax due with HMRC, value and sell the assets, and distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes in their will.
The majority of probate applications are now made online via MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service), particularly since the pandemic. Since it was established in 2018, over 30,000 probate applications have been made via the MyHMCTS service. But how do you monitor probate application progress?
Applying for probate
If the deceased left a will, the executors apply for probate. Executors can be family members, trusted friends or solicitors, but they shouldn’t be beneficiaries. If there is more than one executor, the application for probate online should include all of the executor’s names. We should just point out that only the executors are allowed to apply for a Grant of Probate.
If the deceased did not leave a will, the next of kin, a close relative, or a solicitor must apply to the court for authority to administer the deceased’s estate. When they apply, they are requesting Letters of Administration that give them the authority to deal with probate. They are also known as the Administrator when managing the estate.
There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration are required, including:
- 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 do I need to apply for probate?
To apply for probate online, you should have the following information to hand:
- The deceased’s original will, including any codicils (small additions to the will). It is recommended you have at least two copies of the will and codicils.
- The death certificate or an interim certificate.
- HMRC’s Inheritance Tax form (IHT205) duly completed, even if Inheritance Tax is not due.
You will need these physical documents as you will be required to send them to The Probate Registry once you have completed the online application.
If no Inheritance Tax is due, you will need to complete a different Inheritance Tax form, IHT205. You will also need this form if:
- The value of the deceased’s estate is £325,000 or less (known as an Excepted Estate).
- The value of the estate is less than the Excepted Estate joint limit of £650,000. However, there has to be a claim to transfer the entire nil band rate from a wife, husband or civil partner that died first, and their allowance wasn’t used.
- The estate’s value is less than £1 million, but no Inheritance Tax is due as the estate is being passed on to a surviving wife, husband or civil partner, or it is a charity exemption.
Tracking probate application progress
As well as applying for probate, MyHMCTS’ online probate service allows executors, administrators and solicitors to view their probate application progress and the forms they have via a dashboard. They are also able to monitor their probate application progress. According to HMCTS, the only documentation that needs to be sent to them is the original will, a copy of the death certificate and the completed Inheritance Tax forms.
To use MyHMCTS’s online probate service, you will need to open a Pay By Account (PBA) account. This links directly with MyHMCTS’s fee account system, where you are able to pay for your online probate application. Once registered as an executor or as an Administrator, you will be able to start and track your online probate application.
Once you have completed your online probate application and digitally signed the declaration at the end of the application, print off the declaration as you will need to enclose this with the documents you send to The Probate Registry.
Always make sure you keep a copy of each of the documents you are sending to The Probate Service 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.
MyHMCTS keeps your probate 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 a good idea 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 lived 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 are acting 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.