Steps to get probate

How to get probate without a will

To get probate without a will, you need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. This allows the next of kin to access the estate and distribute assets in line with the rules of intestacy – which we’ll explain in more detail here.

Contents
  1. What happens when someone dies without a will?
  2. Probate without a will: who should apply?
  3. What is a grant of letters of administration?
  4. How long does probate take without a will?
  5. What information do you need before applying for probate without a will?
  6. How to get probate without a will
  7. Summary

What happens when someone dies without a will?

When someone dies without a will, the rules of intestacy come into play. These are a set of laws that define what should happen to someone’s estate when they die intestate. They usually work reasonably well for traditional families whose circumstances are fairly straightforward, but things can be more difficult for unmarried partners and step-children.

You can find out more about the rules of intestacy here.

Probate without a will: who should apply?

When someone dies intestate, the person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy is usually responsible for applying for probate.

In cases where two or more people are equally entitled to apply for probate – for example, the children of the person who died – you can either apply together (maximum of 4 people) or alone.

When applying for probate without a will, the document you need to apply for is called a grant of letters of administration.

What is a grant of letters of administration?

A grant of letters of administration is an official court document that proves you have the right to act as the administrator of someone’s estate. Once the document has been issued, you’ll be able to close bank accounts, sell property, pay debts and distribute assets following the rules of intestacy.

This part of the process is known as ‘estate admin’. It can take anywhere between 3-12 months depending on the number of accounts, properties and other complexities in the estate that need to be dealt with.

You may also hear this document referred to as a grant of representation, which is the collective term for both a grant of letters of administration and a grant of probate.

You can find out more about a grant of letters of administration here.

How long does probate take without a will?

It takes around 30 days from submitting the probate application to getting the grant of letters of administration delivered. This can take longer if the case is particularly complex or if there are backlogs at the probate registry.

What information do you need before applying for probate without a will?

Once you’ve worked out that you’re the right person to apply for probate, it’s a good idea to start making notes about your loved one’s estate. This includes things like:

  • Making a list of all their financial assets, such as bank accounts, savings, investments, stocks and shares, pensions and life insurance policies Contacting the financial organisations to freeze the accounts and find out how much is in each one
  • Valuing any property within the estate – you can find out more about how to value a house for probate here
  • Writing down an estimate for the total value of the estate – this will help your probate specialist understand how much (if any) inheritance tax is likely to be due
  • Verifying the family tree to confirm the relationship between you and your loved one, through certificates such as birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates and divorce certificates (decree absolute)

If the estate is particularly complex and you’d prefer someone to handle this for you, our estate administration service may be right for you.

How to get probate without a will

If you’re the next of kin of someone who died without a will and you believe you can apply for probate, you can get started by calling Farewill on 020 3695 1713. Here’s how it works:

  • Our friendly probate specialists will chat through your situation to help you understand what probate is, whether you need it and how much it’s going to cost.
  • We’ll arrange a follow-up call to find out more details about the estate – this usually takes around 30 minutes.
  • We’ll then follow up with you until we have all the information we need.
  • Once we have everything, we’ll refer you to our legal team.
  • The probate and tax forms are prepared and sent to you to be signed, then they’re submitted to the probate registry.
  • Once everything has been approved by the probate registry, your grant of letters of administration will be sent to you in the post.

You’ll then need to take care of the estate admin, which often includes paying off debts, selling property, closing accounts and distributing assets to beneficiaries following the rules of intestacy.

If the estate is fairly simple, you may be happy to deal with this yourself. However, if you’re worried about making mistakes or simply want to get things sorted as quickly as possible, let us know when you call and we’ll happily provide you with a quote for estate admin.

Summary

  • To get probate without a will, the person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy needs to apply. This is usually the spouse or civil partner, followed by the children of the person who died.
  • Before applying for probate, you should value any property within the estate and work out the total value of any accounts, savings, investments, pensions and life insurance policies. You should also include the value of any debts owed such as mortgages, loans, credit cards and utilities – and you can also include the cost of the funeral.
  • You can start applying for probate by calling our friendly probate specialists on 020 3695 1713. If you need help with the estate administration – including valuing the estate and distributing assets to beneficiaries – we can help with that too.
  • It usually takes around 30 days to get the grant after applying for probate, but this can be longer in more complex cases.
  • The document you receive when applying for probate without a will is called a grant of letters of administration. But, for simplicity, most people just refer to it as probate.
  • After getting probate, you’ll be free to close accounts, sell property, pay debts and distribute assets to beneficiaries following the rules of intestacy.

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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
Related articles
  1. What information do you need before applying for probate?
  2. Do I need probate if my husband or wife dies?
  3. What are letters of administration?