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DIY probate: how to deal with someone's estate without paying expensive solicitor fees

Dealing with probate can be an expensive process. But by closing accounts, selling property and distributing assets yourself, you could save thousands in probate solicitor fees.

Contents
  1. Probate explained
  2. How to find out if you need probate
  3. Can you deal with probate yourself?
  4. Cost comparison: DIY probate vs. professional probate services
  5. DIY probate: pros and cons
  6. Is DIY probate right for you?

Probate explained

Probate is the legal process you need to go through to deal with someone’s estate when they die. This includes applying for a grant of probate (if there is a will) or grant of letters of administration (if there isn’t a will). Together, these are known as grants of representation, giving you the legal authority to administer someone’s estate.

How to find out if you need probate

Probate is required after around 50% of deaths in the UK. If the property and accounts that make up the estate were jointly owned, or the total value of the estate is less than £10,000, you may not need to apply. In most other cases, you’ll either need to apply for a grant of probate (if there is a will) or grant of letters of administration (if there isn't a will). For simplicity, these are usually just referred to as 'probate'.

Can you deal with probate yourself?

If you’re thinking about taking a DIY approach to probate, it’s important to understand the two main parts of the process:

1. Applying for probate

To apply for probate, you need to submit an application to the probate registry. If your loved one left a will, you’ll need to fill out form PA1P to apply for a grant of probate. If they didn’t leave a will, you’ll need to fill out form PA1A to apply for a grant of letters of administration.

As part of this process, you’ll also need to work out whether inheritance tax needs to be paid. If no inheritance tax is due, you’ll need to complete form IHT205. If inheritance tax is due, you’ll need to fill out form IHT400.

2. Estate administration

Estate administration is everything outside of applying for a grant of probate or grant of letters of administration. This includes things like closing bank accounts, selling property, paying off debts, paying inheritance tax, claiming on life insurance policies, tracking down pension pots, pooling assets in one place and paying beneficiaries.

Cost comparison: DIY probate vs. professional probate services

One of the main reasons people choose to deal with probate themselves is cost. This is often because they’ve had a quote from a local probate solicitor that’s in the thousands.

If that’s something you’ve experienced, then there’s a good chance the quote was for full estate administration rather than applying for probate. To help you understand the different fees in more detail, we’ve compared the cost of DIY probate with our grant-only and estate administration fees below:

DIY probate: From £215

If you’re applying for probate yourself, you’ll need to fill out the relevant probate and tax forms yourself. This is generally the most difficult part of the probate process, as the forms are quite long and jargon-heavy. You’ll then need to pay £215 to submit your application to the probate registry, plus £1.50 for each copy of the grant. After receiving your grant of probate, you’ll then need to take care of the estate admin yourself.

Grant-only probate service: From £595

If you would prefer someone else to fill out the probate and inheritance tax forms, you can pay a professional probate provider for a simple, grant-only probate service.

At Farewill, we charge £595 for simple estates and £1,045 for more complex cases. You’ll then need to pay an additional £155 for the probate registry fee and £1.50 for each copy of the grant. You can find out more about our grant-only probate service here.

Full estate administration: From £1,500

If you want someone to handle the entire probate process on your behalf, including applying for the grant, you can pay a professional for full estate administration.

At Farewill, our full estate administration fees start at £1,500 and go up to around £5,000 depending on the complexity of the estate and the amount of work involved. You can find out more about our estate admin service here.

DIY probate: pros and cons

If you’re thinking about dealing with probate yourself, it’s important to understand the practical pros and cons as well as the financial saving. To help you make a decision, we’ve outlined these below:

Pros

✔️ DIY probate is cheaper than using a professional probate service or probate solicitor

✔️ Dealing with the estate yourself can help to take your mind off other things

✔️ You’re in full control of any decisions that need to be made throughout the process

Cons

❌ The probate and inheritance tax forms can be complicated

❌ There can be long delays at the probate registry if you make mistakes

❌ It can be difficult to get in touch with the probate registry to follow-up on your application

❌ DIY probate usually takes longer than a professional provider

Is DIY probate right for you?

When it comes to sorting out probate, you have three options:

  1. Apply for probate and take care of the estate admin yourself
  2. Get professional help applying for probate and deal with the estate admin yourself
  3. Get professional help with the probate application and the estate admin

If you’re confident with legal jargon and tax forms and have plenty of free time to deal with the estate admin, you can probably do everything yourself.

If you’re worried about making mistakes with the forms but are happy to deal with the estate admin yourself, a grant-only probate service may be the best option for you.

If you’re worried about making mistakes with the forms and feel like there’s too much work involved with the estate admin, you’re probably better off going with a full estate administration service.

To speak to a probate specialist about either of our grant-only or full estate administration services, please call us on 020 3695 1713.

Article reviewed

Need help with probate?

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

Call 020 3695 1713
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