A lot of people do not realise that you do not need to be a solicitor in order to apply for probate. In fact, thousands of private probate applications are granted every year. Many laymen have found simple estates easy to administer even if a little time consuming.
Problems arise during DIY probate when the applicant has not carried out sufficient research and reading in order to make a quality application. Probate is not just a case of filling in the forms but requires an understanding of the forms aims and how you can achieve the best result for your beneficiaries.
The steps detailed on this page are designed to give you a broad understanding. They should not be considered a guide to obtaining your own probate. The reason for this is that every estate differs and without a full understanding of the specific estate in question its difficult to be exact.
You can find a lot of information and guidance about wills, inheritance and probate on the Government website.
If you are dealing with an estate that may have an inheritance tax liability you should always seek the advice of a professional. There may be ways to minimize the tax paid and other savings you may not be aware of and how you can implement them.
It is also worth noting that in the case of a DIY probate application for an estate that looks like it could require an IHT payment the district valuer will in all likelihood request professional valuations of the assets. Part of the probate process includes completing a tax return for all estates and you are legally responsible for the accuracy of that return.
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DIY Probate Step 1
Obtain the original Will and identify the Executor(s). It is essential the original Will is located as it is almost impossible to get probate with just a copy. The Executor(s) of the Will should be identified as soon as possible as it is their responsibility to handle probate.
DIY Probate Step 2
Notify in writing any interested parties of the deceased’s death. e.g., employer, social services, financial institutions, utility companies and insurance companies. This should be done in writing, enclosing an official copy of the death certificate, as soon as possible after the death has occurred.
DIY Probate Step 3
Value the deceased person’s estate. Assets owned by the deceased person solely in his/her sole name and assets owned jointly with someone else need to be valued and recorded. This means obtaining probate valuations for the property, assets of value, stocks and shares.
DIY Probate Step 4
Complete the inheritance tax form(s) and pay any tax due. It is a mandatory requirement to complete an inheritance tax return before probate can be issued, even if the estate is of a modest size and below the inheritance tax threshold.
Notes for Step 4. If you need to sell assets in order to pay inheritance tax then we would recommend the use of a solicitor. Your solicitor will be able to give an undertaking to HMRC enabling them to pay the tax at point of sale. You will not be able to do this as a private individual and will need to fund the payment prior to distribution.
DIY Probate Step 5
Complete the probate application paperwork. Finalise the Probate Application Form and accompanying paperwork.
DIY Probate Step 6
File the probate application paperwork at the Probate Registry. This should include the Probate Application Form, the original Will, two A4 photocopies of the Will, a cheque for the correct probate fee, an official copy of the death certificate and the correct inheritance tax paperwork.
DIY Probate Step 7
Attend Probate Registry Interview / Swear the Executors Oath. Once the probate application paperwork has been received by the Probate Registry Office, they will send an acknowledgement letter and instructions for signing the Executors Oath.
DIY Probate Step 8
Receive the original Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry. The original Grant of Probate should be checked for errors and then the Executor(s) need to address the post-grant probate tasks.
DIY Probate Step 9
Place the statutory legal notices in the London Gazette and other relevant publications as appropriate.
DIY Probate Step 10
Register the Grant of Probate with interested parties.
Send an official copy of the grant of probate with a covering letter to all financial companies that still hold the deceased’s money e.g. banks, building societies, insurance companies, share registrars etc.
DIY Probate Step 11
Collect assets of the estate. Complete the necessary forms to close bank accounts, sell investments etc.
DIY Probate Step 12
Pay debts and liabilities of the estate. There is a ‘pecking order’ as to which creditors should be paid, in which order.
DIY Probate Step 13
Prepare and sign off the estate accounts. This document needs to account for all monies belonging to the deceased person, together with itemised expenses and debts, and the financial settlements as per the Will, and signed by the executors and residuary beneficiaries prior to settlement.
DIY Probate Step 14
Transfer ownership of deceased’s property, or share of property if owned jointly, to the beneficiaries (or arrange a sale of the property). This is achieved by completing the appropriate Land Registry paperwork. Advice from a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer may be required.
DIY Probate Step 15
Pay the inheritance monies to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. Pecuniary legacies should be paid before residual legacies and a receipt obtained from the beneficiaries.