After losing a loved one, you may need to apply for probate before you can deal with their estate – but only specific people can handle the probate application. Here, we’ll look at who can apply and how you can get started today.
Probate is required after around 50% of deaths in the UK, and it can be needed regardless of whether the person who died left behind a will.
If there is a will, the executor is usually responsible for applying for a grant of probate. In cases where there is no will, the person who stands to inherit the most (known as the administrator) applies for a grant of letters of administration.
Below, we’ll look at this in more detail so you can work out who needs to apply for probate based on your situation.
Who can apply for probate if there is a will?
You can apply for probate if the person who died made a will and named you as an executor. It’s normal for the person writing a will to tell their executors they’ve been appointed, but it’s worth checking the will to be sure. The document you receive at the end of this process is known as a grant of probate.
If the executors named in the will have died, an administrator will need to be named by the court. Again, this is usually the beneficiary who stands to inherit the most based on what’s been left in the will.
You may have to go through a similar process if the executors named in the will have lost mental capacity – for example, if they suffer from dementia. If there are no surviving executors with mental capacity, an administrator will need to be named by the court. This may be someone who has power of attorney for the executor that lacks capacity, or a person authorised to apply by Court of Protection.
If the executors named in the will are refusing to apply for probate, you can apply to the court to have the executors of the estate removed. This is usually dealt with by a close relative who stands to inherit the most, like a partner or adult child of the person who died.
To find out more about removing an executor or having a new executor appointed, call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090.
Who can apply for probate if the person who died didn’t leave a will?
In cases where probate is required but there is no will, someone will need to apply for a grant of letters of administration. This is usually the person who stands to inherit the most under the rules of intestacy, a set of traditional laws defining what happens to your estate when there is no will. If the person who died has a living spouse or civil partner, they’ll be responsible for dealing with the application.
If the spouse or civil partner has died or is unable to apply for the grant, another family member will need to submit the application. Using the list below, you can see who usually takes responsibility next based on their relationship with the person who died:
Children (or grandchildren over 18 if children have died – this includes any children adopted by the person who died but does not include step-children)
Siblings (or nieces and nephews over 18 if siblings have died)
Half-siblings (or nieces and nephews over 18 if half-siblings have died)
Aunts or uncles
Children of aunts and uncles (cousins)
If the only people entitled to apply for probate are minors, call our specialists for free on 020 3695 2090. We’ll help you work out who can get the grant based on your situation.
What does the executor or administrator do?
The executor or administrator of the estate (also known as the personal representative) takes responsibility for applying for probate and distributing the estate to beneficiaries. This can involve many steps, including but not limited to:
Tracking down any financial documents belonging to the person who died
Sending a copy of the death certificate to banks, building societies, the Land Registry, share registrars and other organisations that hold the money of the person who died
Asking banks to freeze accounts so no money can be withdrawn without correct legal authority
Opening a bank account on behalf of the estate
Finding details of any money owed to the person who died
Finding details of any money or debts owed by the person who died
Writing a detailed list of the property, money and possessions, and debts in the estate
Working out how much inheritance tax is due and arranging to pay it
If applying for probate yourself, preparing and sending off the documents required by the probate registry and HM Revenue and Customs
After receiving the grant of probate (or grant of letters of administration), collecting in money from any banks, building societies, insurance companies and pensions that make up the estate
Selling property and shares or transferring to beneficiaries
Paying debts, expenses and fees out of the estate, such as solicitors fees
Sharing out the estate in accordance with the will or rules of intestacy
How to get help with probate
If you need help applying for probate, call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090. Our team will happily answer any questions you have, including whether probate is needed and if you’re the right person to apply.
After confirming that you can apply for probate, you’ll need to decide whether you want a, Essential Probate (grant-only) service or Complete Probate (estate administration). We offer both of these services at Farewill and will happily provide you with a free, no obligation quote over the phone. You can find out more about each of these below:
We arrange a couple of phone calls to gather information about the estate you’re dealing with. Then we get the tax and probate forms prepared, send them out to you to be checked, and submit them to the probate registry.
Once the probate application has been approved, we get it sent out to you in the post, then you’re free to close accounts, sell property and distribute assets to beneficiaries.
This service costs £595 for simpler cases and £1,045 for more complex estates. 75% of estates in England and Wales qualify for our lower price.
Complete Probate includes everything above, plus anything that comes before or after applying for probate. This is particularly popular if the estate is complex or in cases where the executor/administrator works full time or struggles with financial admin.
The cost of this service is agreed upfront, but we always quote on a case-by-case basis depending on the complexity of the estate. If you’re not sure which service is right for you, it’s worth getting a quote when you speak to us, as the difference may not be as much as you think.
How long does probate take in the UK?