What is Probate?

Applying for probate can be a Stressfull and Exhausting task, but our specialists are here to make it feel simple. In this Free guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about going through probate and dealing with someone’s estate.

What is probate?

Probate (short for “grant of probate”) is a legal document that shows banks, the Land Registry, and other organisations that you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. The process of getting probate usually takes 1-3 months.


Need help with probate?

Our friendly probate specialists are here to help you and can offer information and a free, no-obligation quote over the phone. 

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    Losing a loved one

    Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things for any of us will ever have to go through, and applying for probate is a huge part of that. But before getting started with your application, it’s important to understand the meaning of probate, the key steps involved and the various documents you may need to apply for.

    Probate meaning

    Probate is a legal document that’s needed following about 50% of deaths in the UK. It’s used to show banks, the Land Registry and other organisations that you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate.

    What is a grant of probate?

    A grant of probate is an official court document that proves you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. If the person whose estate you’re dealing with had a will and you’re the executor, you may need to apply for a grant of probate to access their estate. Once this has been approved, you’ll be free to sell property, pay off debts, close accounts, and distribute assets in accordance with the will.

    Probate process explained

    The process of getting probate usually takes 1-3 months. It can then take a further 3-6 months to deal with the estate, but this can be quicker if there’s no property that needs to be sold.

    Here’s a breakdown of the key steps in the probate process:

    Step 1: Checking whether you need probate

    Probate is needed in about 50% of cases related to death in the UK, so the first thing you need to do is find out if you need it.

    Probate is usually needed if:

    • The total value of the estate is worth more than £10,000
    • The estate includes a number of solely-owned assets

    To find out if you need probate, you can read our full guide on when probate is required.

    Step 2: Gathering up information about the estate

    Once you know you need probate, you should track down the will (if there is one) and make a list of your loved one’s assets. This includes things like:

    • Property
    • Bank accounts
    • Savings accounts
    • Pensions
    • Life insurance
    • Stocks and shares
    • Debts
    • Any gifts given in the last 7 years

    You’ll then need to contact the banks and other organisations to find out the value of each asset in the estate.

    If you need help tracking down this information, or don’t have time to work it out yourself, our estate administration service may be a good option for you.

    This also includes the remaining steps in the probate process, so you can rest assured that everything will be taken care of and the beneficiaries will receive their inheritance.

    Step 3: Applying for probate

    If you choose to value the estate yourself, the next step will be to apply for probate. For this, you’ll need to fill out a probate application form along with inheritance tax form IHT205, IHT217 or IHT400 – depending on your situation.

    These forms can be fairly complex, so most people choose to hire a solicitor or professional probate provider to handle this on their behalf.

    To find out how we can get your probate completed  for as little as £499  (including the probate registry fee), please call our friendly team call free on 0808 188 9008  or 0207 965 7568 local call rates apply

    Step 4: Getting the grant of probate

    After your application has been submitted to the probate registry, it usually takes 3-6 weeks for it to be approved. However, if the forms include a few mistakes or there’s a backlog at the registry, this can take much longer.

    Once the application is approved, this will be sent out to you in the post.

    Step 5: Dealing with the estate administration

    The final step in the probate process is dealing with the estate admin. This usually takes 3-6 months and includes things like:

    • Completing an inheritance tax return and paying any taxes due – such as inheritance tax, income tax or capital gains tax
    • Putting the house on the market and overseeing the sale – or transferring the house to beneficiaries
    • Closing bank accounts and collecting funds in one place
    • Contacting pension providers to access funds
    • Claiming on any life insurance policies
    • Repaying any outstanding debts owed by the deceased
    • Distributing funds to the beneficiaries

    Want to find out how long probate will take based on your situation? Use our free calculator to get a quick estimate.

    What is a grant of letters of administration?

    A grant of letters of administration is an official court document that proves you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. The key difference between this and a grant of probate is that a grant of letters of administration is needed for estates where there is no will or called (Instate). It may also be required in cases where there is a will but the executors are unable to deal with the estate. This is known as a grant of letters of administration with will annexed.

    If you recently lost a loved one and stand to inherit the majority of their estate under the rules of intestacy, you may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration before you can deal with their assets. As part of this process, you’ll become the administrator of the estate.

    What's the difference between probate and full estate administration?

    When comparing prices for probate solicitors, you’ll probably notice a huge range of fees ranging from the hundreds well into the thousands. That’s because there are two different types of service you can choose from when applying for probate: getting the grant of probate (or grant of letters of administration) and full estate administration.

    Full estate administration

    Full estate administration includes everything involved in getting the grant of probate or grant of letters of administration, plus all the admin that comes before and afterwards. This may include paying off debts and inheritance tax, selling property, closing bank accounts and collecting funds, claiming on life insurance policies, and distributing funds to beneficiaries.

    Every estate is different, so the cost of our full estate administration service varies from case to case. While many probate solicitors charge a percentage of the estate, we always quote a fixed-fee upfront so you know exactly what to expect.

    • Probate is a legal document that gives you the authority to deal with someone’s estate.
    • It’s needed after about 50% of deaths in the UK and can be needed whether there’s a will or not.
    • The process of getting probate usually takes between 1 and 3 months. It can then take another 3-6 months to deal with the estate.
    • If you’re confident dealing with the estate administration yourself, you can get probate with Probate Specialist for as little as £499 – including the government’s fee.
    • If the estate is particularly complex and you’d like a professional to deal with this for you, our estate administration service may be a better fit for you – which starts at just £1,399. 

    When is probate required

    No we are not solcitors or a lawfirm we are a new kind of company that processes the paperwork and uses solicitors to finalise everything keeping your costs to a minimum.  

    You can call free on 0808 188 9008 or you can call us on 0207 965 7568 local call charges apply 

    Probate Specialist Limited, 5th Floor, 167-169 Great Portland Street, Marylebone London, W1W 5PF

    Probate Specialist Limited 126, High Street , Marlborough SN8 1LZ

    No, the company is a new kind of company that completes the paperwork and then solicitors within the company do the legal work. Each of the solicitors are independently regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA)

    For general email purposes you can email email@probatespecialistltd.co.uk or london@probatespecialistltd.co.uk

    You can also email your specialist directly on specialistname@probatespecialistltd.co.uk

    Probate Specialist Limited, The Office, 21 Ferozeshah Road, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 2JQ

    Company Number: 13015149

    ICO Reg Number: ZA807624

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    We have extensively trained in Probate and we believe that we have the best systems in place to deal with your probate in a fast efficient and accurate manner. 

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