probate forms

The probate process in the UK

There are times when people die before they allocate their property to family members. Such cases necessitate a probate process to obtain the grant of representation. Though it might be a lengthy process, by following several rules, you can easily do it on your own.

Before we delve into the topic, let’s take a look into the meaning of probate.

What is Probate?

When someone dies and they leave money and other possessions behind, their loved ones will have to split the property.

This process involves distributing the money and possessions among the loved ones. Applying for probate simply means you will have the right to deal with the affairs of the dead person. Though there are experts who are trained to take care of such matters in the probate registry, you can do it alone, as long as you follow the right procedure.

It is possible to get more information using a genuine probate registry helpline. You must have the letter of administration and the probate form PA1 before you can apply probate.

This will allow you to apply for probate. You will also need to report the value of the estate to HMRC. Make sure you make your payments to the HMRC when it is due.

Here is a short video from us explaining the probate process.

The Cost of Applying for Probate

The probate costs you should consider when calculating the total cost of probate include the fixed cost and the variable cost.

The variable costs involve the cost of experts you will hire to help you with the process. These could be solicitors, banks, or a probate professional. The variable fees can range from 2% to 5% of the entire value of the landed property.

If the estate is worth £100,000, then the variable cost might range from £2,000 to £5,000 with VAT included.

Before you can receive the grant of letters of administration, you have to pay a non-refundable application fee.

Here are some guidelines you should follow

  • In case the dead person had an estate that is worth more than £5,000, you will have to pay a flat rate fee of around £215. You should note that the worth of the estate is calculated after the funeral costs and debts of the deceased have been factored in.
  • £155 is also charged for application done by a specialist or the probate solicitor.
  • Experts believe that the fees mentioned above could go up substantially in late 2019.

The Variable Fees of Probate

Note that the cost of having an estate administered might vary greatly depending on who is taking part in the process. You can choose to have it done by a bank, a probate specialist, or a solicitor.

The cost ranges from 2.5% to 5%, depending on the institution you use to apply for probate. Some will simply charge higher rates because of their high level of experience. You can run more searches about the variable fees on reliable online and offline sources.

Regardless of the person or institution you select to help with the process, you will be charged a fixed hourly fee. This is a specific percentage of the entire value of the property. However, in case you are dealing with a small property with low value, you can avoid the probate cost by doing it yourself.

The Actual Cost of Probate

From the illustration above, you can easily see that the cost of probate varies depending on some factors. Then it might be possible to predict the fixed cost. The variable cost is quite complicated and might need some time to compute conclusively.

The variable cost might be too high, especially if you are catering to 5% of the value of the property. For example, if the property is valued at £500,000, you might pay a total of £25,000, including the fixed cost.

You Can Be Helped with the Probate Process

Filling the probate form PA1 can be challenging, especially if you are dealing with a large estate. You can choose to get some help from a bank, or a solicitor. Many other probate specialists can help you complete the probate forms.

You need to make this decision in advance after considering important aspects of the process. Note that depending on the person helping with the process, the cost of the process might vary greatly as explained below.

Probate application form

Solicitors Fees

For solicitors, you can always estimate the entire fee as between 3% and 5% of the entire value of the estate plus the value-added tax. For instance, if you are dealing with a property with a value of £500,000, then you will have to pay the solicitor from £15,000 to £25,000 plus VAT. That said, with VAT, at 20% there will be an increase in the cost to £18,000 and £30,000.

Solicitors charge hourly rates differently, depending on their levels of experience working in probate registry and the number of people involved in your case.

At some point, you will face challenges trying to take care of the estate by yourself. Therefore, you might need assistance from a specialist. Even if your process is complicated, an experienced solicitor will be able to handle it properly.

Bank Fees for Probate

Compared to using probate specialists or solicitors, banks are way more expensive. They will always charge rates that range between 4% and 5% of the value of the estate plus the VAT.

From this illustration, it is quite advisable to use a solicitor or a probate specialist instead of a bank.

Probate Specialists Fees

Probate professionals will always provide services similar to those of solicitors and banks, but they are always cheaper compared to the two. They usually charge between 2.5% and 5% of the entire value of the property, plus VAT.

How Long Does Probate Take?

As soon as you make the request, you should receive a grant of letters of administration and the application form.

The process can take a whole year or even more if you are dealing with a complicated case. Many institutions might be involved in the procedure, and they include banks, insurance companies, and building societies. The more the institutions involved, the longer the process might take. It is vital that you wait until all the companies have received the claims before you commence working on the estate.

Once the probate has been issued, there is a six-month allowance for anyone wishing to make a claim against the property.

Some delays are caused by arguments among family member, personal representatives, and beneficiaries. It is a must that all disputes are settled before the grant of representation is finalised. Many other things might make the process to delay. These include:

  • The possessions of the person who died and where they are at the moment.
  • If the tax of inheritance should be paid.
  • Many elder people make a will before they die, and the rules they outline must be considered.
  • If the person that died had an interest in a firm or a business.

What Happens in Cases where there is a Contentious Probate

Contentious probate refers to any disagreement that is related to the administration of a property that belongs to someone who died.

Regardless of the nature of the dispute, it can affect the entire process. It is advisable that when there is a dispute over a given property, you make sure that it is settled quickly to ensure the safety of the estate.

Most of the time, disputes involve a family member who claims that they deserve more than what they are allocated from the property of someone who died

In case there is a dispute, the person taking care of the case will enter a caveat so that the grant of probate is not taken out. Caveat helps the solicitor to create enough time to see whether a given probate application form is valid. It also allows more time to decide whether the application should be presented before the court.

A good example is a situation where there is a dispute between two or more individuals who have the right to apply for a probe concerning the will.

When is Probate Required?

Whether probate is needed depends on the property that was owned by the decedent and how it was held. It also depends on the law of the area in which the property is located. It is worth noting that even with a will, probate is still necessary. Below are some of the reasons why probate is necessary.

  • In case the elder did not make a will, then probate is a must so that the beneficiaries and identified. They are then given their share of the property following a legal process. In this case, letter of administration might be provided by the probate court.
  • If there is a valid will that allows the estate (whether big or small) to be distributed as stipulated by the dead person. For the process to proceed successfully, there has to be a probate.
  • Also, there must be probate if there is a problem with an existing will. The common issues include the submission of a will that is not considered as the final, there is a substantial mistake in the will, if it was created when the decedent was not in their right mind, and many other problems that might corrupt the integrity of the will.

The Steps to the Probate Process

If you have never applied probate before, you might not be sure how to go about the process. Have in mind that the timeline of the process depends on the nature of the property. Here are the main steps that you will have to adhere to

1 – File a Petition

To begin the process of obtaining probate, you will have to file a petition.

This request must be filed within the county that the person used to live. Alongside the petition, you must attach a valid will to the probate forms. After the submission, the court of law will decide when the hearing will be done to prove the executor.

You will then be considered the executor of will of the senior.

2 – Provide a Notice

You must inform all the creditors, beneficiaries, and heirs that the property is on probate. This can only happen if you have the grant of probate. If the state has a high value, then you may have to publish the notice in a newspaper. You might be asked to do this by the probate office.

3 – Inventory Assets

All the assets that are affected by the probate must be included in a clear list. The list must be presented in court alongside the probate. However, if you are applying for probate online, you will have to scan the original copy and submit it to the probate office or court.

Applying for probate online can simplify the process significantly. You can use the probate registry helpline in case you experience any challenges in the process.

4 – Take Care of Bills and Debts

In case there is money that is owed to the state, ensure that you have them collected on time.

Also, in case there are any bills and checks, you have to confirm them and plan when you will have them settled. It is vital to be sure that the estate has enough assets to clear all the debts before paying them. If there are applicable taxes, you should make sure that they are paid.

5 – Distribute the Remaining Assets

After paying all expenses, claims, and debts, you will hand over the remaining assets to the rightful heirs as indicated in the will. Usually, a large proportion of the assets will be passed on as per the legal order of next of kin.

If the deceased did not leave a will, the assets will be split with regard to the legal order of next of kin as determined by the court.

6 – Close the State

Once you are done distributing the assets, you must have a clear probate records. Take them to the probate court and ensure that the estate is closed and absolved from the role of executor of will. You need to have a copy of probate records, in case you need to refer to something urgently.

The Final Word

If you are interested in obtaining probate, you need to ensure that you follow the right steps.

Though it is great to get help from an expert, you can choose to do it yourself, especially when the property does not have a high value. Also, make sure that you have a clear understanding of the law of your county so that you complete the process successfully. In case there is anything that is not clear, you can talk to the experts in your region.

Before getting help from a professional, confirm that they have enough experience in this field.

we can help

We have partnered with Co-Op Legal Services, one of the UK’s leading probate specialists, to bring our site users a cost effective but premium level probate service. 

We realise that for many it is essential that probate is completed quickly.  That is why our dedicated service is designed to speed things up as much as possible for you and consequently reduce the time it takes for probate to be completed.

The services are broken down in to 2 options.  These allow you to choose how involved you want to be in the probate process.

Option 1 – Tell me what to do – Initial advice using this service is ALL free

We work in partnership with Co-op Legal Services who offer a Bereavement Notification Service which provides helpful practical advice and assistance following a bereavement.

This may include help with financial matters such as providing letter templates for you to give to the bank, building society, pension provider and other financial institutions about your loss.

The service can also help with stopping unwanted mail, closing social media accounts and giving advice where there has been a referral to the coroner or there is to be an inquest.

For free initial advice call our Probate Specialists on – 0330 0417 754

Option 2 – Do it all for me – Initial advice using this service is ALL free

Co-op Legal Services offers a complete Probate Service.

We take full responsibility for getting the Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excluding VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs on your behalf.

Our local Probate Consultant can meet with you in your home or another location (in England or Wales) to explain the Probate process, to answer your questions.

We will provide you with a Fixed Fee Probate quote which is based on the individual circumstances of your loved one’s Estate.

Our price ranges start from £1,603 excluding VAT and disbursements. There are a number of factors which can affect the complexity of an Estate and the quotation you will be given, including the value and nature of the assets, whether or not there is a Will, and the number of Beneficiaries.

There are no upfront costs to pay as our Probate fees are deferred and will be taken from the Estate once it is in funds. 

For free initial advice call our Probate Specialists on – 0330 0417 754

Co-op Legal Services is a trading name of Co-operative Legal Services Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

What you need to do next

If you would like some help and either know which of the 2 tiered approach you would like to use, or would just like to chat to help you decide, please call us on 0330 0417 754.  


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