How Much Tax Do You Pay on Probate in the United Kingdom?

tax on probate

In the UK and in many other countries, when someone dies, their estate may be subject to tax. In most cases, that tax due is Inheritance Tax (IHT) which the family of the deceased pay on their ‘inheritance’. However, in some cases, if the deceased’s estate is extensive and incorporates overseas investments or properties, a family business or anything else that ‘earns’ an income, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may also be applicable.

How much tax on probate the family pays on a deceased’s estate largely depends on its total value. The estate includes any pay-outs on life assurance policies, investments, rental properties and cash in the bank. It may be that the deceased’s estate is not liable to pay tax on probate if the value of the estate is below HMRC’s tax threshold.

In addition, following changes to the way Inheritance Tax is calculated from January 2022, the reporting of IHT has been simplified. So, how much tax on probate do you pay in the UK?

What is Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains tax on probate?

Inheritance Tax is a tax on the value of the estate of someone that has passed away. The deceased’s beneficiaries/family is liable to pay tax at a rate of 40% on the estate’s value, over and above the UK IHT tax threshold of £325,000.

For example, if the deceased’s estate is valued at less than £325,000 no IHT is payable to HMRC. However, if the deceased’s estate is valued at £400,000, the beneficiaries/family/executors will be liable for tax on the amount above the tax threshold, i.e. £75,000.

Capital Gains tax on probate is not usually required on the transfer of assets to beneficiaries. However, any assets acquired by the deceased’s estate after death could be liable for CGT; i.e. it is a tax on ‘gains’ usually associated with residential property but it can also be applied to investments and businesses. This means that when the beneficiary or executor sells or gives away the asset, CGT is due on the ‘gain’ in the value of the asset between the date of the deceased’s death and when the asset was sold or given away.

For example, if the value of the deceased’s property was £200,000 upon death, but by the time it was sold, the value had increased to £250,000, the estate (beneficiaries or family) may have to pay CGT on the ‘gain’ of £50,000.

What is the Inheritance Tax threshold?

There is currently only one threshold of £325,000. This is known as the ‘nil-rate band’ (NRB), and an estate that is valued below this threshold does not pay any tax on probate. Estates above the threshold are liable for Inheritance Tax at a rate of 40%. Let’s give you an example:

If your estate is worth £600,000, your IHT is calculated as follows:

£600,000 – £325,000 = £275,000

£275,000 x 40% = £110,000 tax on probate due

Therefore, the deceased’s beneficiaries receive £325,000 + £165,000 (the remainder value of the estate once tax has been paid), which equals £490,000.

However, there are several situations where the Inheritance Tax threshold is different.

  • Married and civil partnerships – if you are married or in a civil partnership and leave your entire estate to your spouse or partner, if one partner dies first, there is no tax to pay, and in most cases, the nil rate band threshold won’t be affected either. This means that the living spouse can add the unused balance of their deceased spouse’s/partner’s threshold to their own, essentially doubling their threshold when they die. However, if the spouse/partner leaves a part of their estate to other beneficiaries, like children, or made a lifetime gift seven years prior to their death, and the estate is of high enough value, Inheritance Tax is due, and a proportion of the nil rate band threshold may be taken.
  • Leaving a property – if you are married or in a civil partnership and leave the family home to your living spouse or a direct descendent, i.e. a child or grandchild only, in its entirety, under current rules there is a further £175,000 tax-free allowance but only if the value of the property is under £1 million. Anything above this value and the allowance drops significantly. The good news is that any unused tax allowance balance can be added to the living spouse’s allowances on their death.

Do spouses and civil partners pay a tax on probate?

In most cases, spouses and civil partners can leave their estate tax-free. In addition, the surviving spouse or partner can add any unused tax-free allowance to their own tax allowances. So, in reality, the deceased can leave their spouse/partner as much as £650,000, or £1 million if it includes a property, without them having to pay any tax on probate.

However, if the deceased spouse/partner used most or all of their tax-free allowance by leaving a proportion of their estate to a direct descendent, the above does not apply.

Tax-free gifts and trusts

It is possible to make gifts to spouses/partners or to charities, which may be exempt from tax, but it does depend on when the gift was made. If it was given at least seven years prior to death – if it’s not gifted to a business or a trust – there will be no tax to pay on the gift. However, if the person dies before the seven years, there will be a tax levy to pay and how much depends on when the person dies during that seven-year period. This is known as IHT taper relief on potentially exempt transfers (PETs).

It is also possible to put assets into a trust that is left to a beneficiary after death. Whilst a trust doesn’t exempt the estate from paying tax on probate, it can go some way to reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax paid. This is because any assets held in a trust, and managed by appointed trustees on behalf of the beneficiaries, are owned by the trust, not the trustees or the person who set up the trust. If you live beyond seven years from the date the trust was established, those assets are not included in the estate upon death and may be tax-free. Instead, a 20% IHT tax levy is imposed when you set up the trust, and every ten years, the assets are revalued, and 6% IHT is paid at the time, minus the nil rate band threshold of £325,000.

Whenever you are writing a will, it’s always important to understand the tax implications on your beneficiaries, family and executors first.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How to Find a Good Estate Planning Lawyer in the United Kingdom

Good Estate Planning Lawyer

As a loved one, family member or executor of a will, it’s never easy to manage the estate of a deceased person, particularly if you’re not familiar with all the legal terminology. If the estate (the deceased’s assets and possessions) is complex or large, it can be even more complicated.

In these situations, making use of a complete estate service relieves the burden and provides all the help you may need. Whether a Grant of Probate has already been obtained or not, when you use an estate service, you remain the executor, but the estate is administered on your behalf.

What is an estate?

An estate is everything you own; this includes cash in the bank, pensions and life assurance, investments and insurance policies, your property, jewellery, cars, furniture and ornaments, even down to your prized set of golf clubs.

Therefore, everyone has an estate, even if they think they don’t. If you own it, it is part of your estate, and with the help of a good estate planning lawyer, you can make sure your estate is managed according to your wishes.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is a clear and detailed plan on exactly how you would like your estate managed when you die. It also sets out your funeral arrangements and how you would like to be looked after during your lifetime if you are incapacitated, whether that’s temporary or not. This is done through the use of a Power of Attorney within your estate plan.

Although having a will is a good step towards estate planning, it does not cover various other aspects of your estate. The problem is that a will is only suitable after your death; an estate plan ensures your wishes are upheld during your lifetime, too. A good estate planning lawyer will be able to make sure that you have covered everything you need to consider in your estate plan.

For example, you may want to exclude someone or some people from your will, and an estate plan will make sure that what you want is followed. There is also less of a chance of your will being challenged after you die.

Planning your estate also means that should you need long-term care during your lifetime, your wishes on your care, as well as your financial affairs, are carried out according to your instructions. Estate planning includes:

  • Lasting Power of Attorney – there are various types of lasting Power of Attorney, including a living will. They make sure your wishes are followed (even if it is a temporary hospital stay) and set out decisions for your ongoing health and welfare.
  • Children/family welfare – you can make sure that your children if under the age of 18 years are looked after by a named guardian and ensure provisions have been made for their care and financial matters. You can ensure that any members of your family that need long-term special needs care are looked after in the way you want.
  • Managing a business – if you run a business, you can set out a planned exit from the business for you and your family, if necessary.
  • Tax implications – an estate plan also helps to ensure your family and/or beneficiaries don’t pay any more inheritance tax than they need to. In some cases, you may also be able to ensure that other related costs are kept to a minimum, too.

What does a good estate planning lawyer offer?

A good estate planning lawyer will offer a service that goes beyond just handling the paperwork. It covers:

  • Confirming the eligibility of executors and applying for a Grant of Probate (if required).
  • Reviewing the validity of the will and other related documents, like an estate plan.
  • Considering applicable inheritance tax relief options relevant to the estate.
  • Assessing the nature, extent and value of the estate’s assets and liabilities for inheritance tax purposes.
  • Liaising with HMRC over the valuations of the estate’s assets and/or liabilities.
  • Collecting the estate’s assets, closing accounts and discharging any estate liabilities.
  • Liaising with asset holders on your behalf.
  • Arranging insurance for any property that needs to be safeguarded during the administration period.
  • Liaising with the Department for Works & Pensions regarding any liability arising from overpaid benefits or the ineligibility of benefits due to an oversight in providing full disclosure of capital or income.
  • Liaising with charities and their designated offices on your behalf (if required).
  • Discussing the basis of calculation of any past, current or future liability for inheritance tax, capital gains tax, income tax or any other taxes following an application for probate with HMRC.
  • Arranging for any statutory notices to be published in The Gazette and local newspapers, if required, to stop any challenges to the estate.
  • Arranging for the final distribution of the estate to named beneficiaries.
  • Preparing the final estate accounts covering the period of estate administration.
  • Stopping any unwanted mail addressed to the deceased and safeguarding against identity theft.

A good estate planning lawyer will work with you throughout the administration process and is always available with support and advice.

Benefits of using a good estate planning lawyer

There are a variety of benefits to using an estate planning lawyer, including:

  • Help shoulder the burden of managing a deceased’s estate.
  • Specialist probate solicitors who understand the administration process thoroughly.
  • Legal professionals who understand the legal jargon used in documentation.
  • Liaising with HMRC, insurance companies, pension providers and other representatives in settling any liabilities attributed to the estate. This includes closing any relevant accounts and obtaining life insurance funds on your behalf.
  • Understanding the different tax liabilities that an estate incurs, including any potential tax reliefs that can be applied to reduce the tax burden.
  • Completing and filing all the necessary documentation on your behalf, including applying for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, if no will has been left by the deceased.
  • Ensuring all relevant tax exemptions and reliefs have been applied, that HMRC’s tax calculations are accurate and ensuring payment deadlines are met.
  • Collecting all the estate’s assets, obtaining valuations (if necessary), and distributing the assets in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. If no will has been left, they will organise equal distribution between family members.
  • Preparing and submitting final estate accounts that detail all estate transactions/payments, assets sold and distributed, debts settled and other related costs.

Probate is a time consuming, lengthy process, sometimes taking as long as a year or more depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate. Although executors are entitled to manage the administration of an estate, any mistakes made in tax calculations or incorrect information on documentation will not only delay probate, it could hold you as the executor financially or legally responsible for the error.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Online Probate Help: General Enquiries Resolved

Online Probate Process

If you’ve not had to deal with a deceased’s estate and apply for a Grant of Probate, it can be a daunting task. These days, you don’t need to go through a solicitor to apply for a Grant of Probate. You can handle the process yourself via an online probate application.

To assist you with the process, here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about online probate help.

What is probate?

Probate is the process of administering a deceased person’s estate (assets), whether there is a will or not, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

What is a grant of probate?

If there is a will, the grant of probate is the legal document granted to the executors of the deceased’s estate that gives them the authority to manage the estate, gather the deceased’s assets, pay any debts and tax liabilities, and distribute the beneficiaries inheritance.

What are letters of administration?

If there isn’t a will, the probate is known as letters of administration and is granted by the court to the person managing the deceased’s estate. Once granted, it works in the same way as a grant of probate.

How long does probate take?

On average, probate takes 9 – 12 months to settle an estate in full. The simpler the estate, the quicker the probate process and, in some cases, it may only take six months. However, if the estate is more complex, i.e. involving overseas assets or businesses, or the will is contested, the process will take longer than 12 months.

Can I apply for probate online?

Yes, you can apply for probate online with the Probate Registry via the MyHMCTS platform. You can complete the online details and send them, along with the probate fee, to start your application immediately. They will also share your application details with HMRC to ascertain how much inheritance tax is applicable.

What information do I need to apply for online probate?

When applying for probate, you will need to have the following information:

  • The deceased’s personal details, including full name and residential address at the time of death.
  • The date the deceased died.
  • The location where the deceased died, i.e. in a care home, a hospital or at home.
  • A copy of the will. (the original will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • The names of the executors, if there is a will or the name of the representative that will be managing the deceased’s estate.
  • A copy of the death certificate (the original will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • A copy of the death certificate (an original copy will need to be sent to the Probate Registry).
  • A copy of the IHT400 inheritance form including the amount of inheritance tax due (the original completed form will need to be sent to HMRC).

How much does the probate application cost?

The current cost to apply for probate online is £273 (with effect from 26th January 2022) if the estate’s value is over £5,000. If the estate is valued at less than £5,000, there is no fee to pay. It can be paid online with your probate application to MyHMCTS. If you don’t want to pay online, you can send a cheque together with a Statement of Truth – this declares, or oath, that the information you have provided is correct – to the Probate Office.

Do I need a solicitor to help with probate?

Officially, no, you don’t need a solicitor to help with probate. However, because probate is a legal process and you are likely to come across a variety of legal terms, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a probate solicitor. They will be able to help you with the administrative forms and details, calculate how much inheritance tax is due (if any) and help you to resolve any disputes.

How does the probate process work?

When someone dies, the executors of the will, if there is one, or family representative, if there isn’t a will, have a short period of time to apply for a grant of probate. Once granted by the court, this gives them the authority to manage and settle the deceased’s estate according to their wishes, if there is a will. If there isn’t a will, the probate process must follow the legal intestacy rules.

What does intestate mean?

If someone dies and hasn’t left a will, they are considered to have died intestate in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act 1987 (Act 81 of 1987). Under the intestacy rules, the deceased’s estate is distributed evenly between the person’s children first. If there are no children, it will go to other descendants. If there are no living relatives, the estate is passed to the government.

Who can apply for letters of administration?

If there is no will, the deceased’s next of kin applies for letters of administration. The next of kin is the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, parents or siblings. If there are no living relatives, a close friend or a solicitor may apply and are known as the administrator of the estate.

What is the seven-year rule in respect of inheritance tax?

The seven-year rule applies to any gifts the deceased has made in their lifetime before their death. When the gift was made in the seven years prior to death determines the percentage of tax paid by the deceased’s estate.

Managing the estate of a deceased person can be a complex process, particularly if you are not familiar with legal terms. It is always advisable to get good advice from a professional probate solicitor.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

What Is a Limited Grant of Probate in the United Kingdom?

Limited Grant of Probate

If a will is disputed by potential beneficiaries of an estate on the death of a person, those disputing the validity of the will can apply to the Probate Registry for a caveat to be placed against the deceased’s estate. This prevents the executors of the will from obtaining a grant of probate and stops them from administering the estate.

In these situations, it can take considerable time before the matter is resolved. In that time, not being able to collect and subsequently sell the assets of the estate may result in not only the deterioration of the asset, such as property but also in a reduction in the value of the estate.

In these circumstances, it may be possible to apply to a court for a limited grant of probate that allows the executors to continue administering the estate in order to protect its value, as well as pay any estate liabilities, such as tax.

What is a limited grant of probate?

In the UK, there are several reasons for contesting a will, and they are:

  • Testamentary capacity – did the deceased have the required mental capacity to make a valid will?
  • Due execution – there was a failure to meet the required formalities when making the will. For example, the will wasn’t correctly signed and witnessed.
  • Insufficient knowledge and approval of the will – did the deceased know about and understand the meaning and/or content of the will?
  • Under undue duress or influence – was the deceased under pressure from another party to make or change their will?
  • Forgery or fraud – was any part of the will changed without authority, or were the signatures faked?
  • Rectification and construction – is the will or any of its content unclear, ambiguous or does not carry out the deceased’s wishes or intentions?

Anyone that wishes to contest a deceased’s will must do so within six months of the date the grant of probate was issued. However, if the will is contested before the grant of probate has been granted, the executors of the deceased’s estate can no longer proceed with the administration of the estate.

In order to maintain and preserve the assets of the estate’s value and pay its liabilities, such as paying inheritance tax to HMRC, the executors (usually done via a solicitor as the person that applies must be independent of the dispute) can apply for a limited grant of probate.

Called a Grant ad colligenda bona, it means that the executors or administrator of an estate is granted permission to preserve the estate’s assets but not distribute any assets. However, they are in some cases allowed to continue with the sale of a property or other assets if they are not part of a beneficiary’s inheritance. In addition, HMRC will require a full account regarding the estate.

A limited grant of probate is only valid for six months. If the dispute hasn’t been resolved within that time, the executors will need to apply for a continuation of the limited grant of probate. Solicitors are also able to apply for a ‘grant pending determination of a probate claim’. Both provide the authority to gather in and preserve the deceased’s assets as part of their estate, and continue to administer the estate, but cannot distribute any part of the estate to beneficiaries, including any monetary amounts gathered, until the dispute has been resolved and full grant of probate or administration has been made by the Probate Registry.

Applying for a limited grant of probate in these circumstances, or if a caveat has been lodged with the court, means that the value of any assets that may depreciate in value if they are not maintained is preserved, thereby avoiding any potential of negligence allegations at a later date.

If any assets or funds that are part of the deceased’s estate are distributed, the personal representatives of the estate, i.e. the executors or solicitor, may be held personally liable for the assets or funds that have been paid out to beneficiaries.

Applying for a limited grant of probate

Applying for a limited grant of probate, which can include limited grants of administration to solicitors, grants pending suit (called pendente lite) and grants to the use and benefit of a minor, must be done through the Probate Registry.

The application must be supported by an Affidavit and Oath detailing the reasons why a limited grant of probate is required. For example, if a property forms part of the estate and due to the time taken to resolve any dispute, the empty property may fall into disrepair, a limited grant of probate may be granted to allow the executors to look after the property and preserve its value. Before the Probate Registry can issue the grant, it must also be approved by HMRC and the District Registrar. Although in urgent cases the grant can be approved quickly, most of the time it takes four to six weeks.

Once the Grant ad colligenda bona has been approved, it is important that the powers within the limited grant are not exceeded. In addition, once the dispute has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties or all the information required has been gathered, the executors (or solicitor) of the deceased’s estate will still need to apply for a full grant of probate. Without this, they will not have the authorisation to distribute the estate’s assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How Does Inheritance Tax Taper Relief Work in the United Kingdom?

Inheritance Tax Taper Relief

When someone dies and leaves their assets, an inheritance, to beneficiaries (usually family and friends), they are liable to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT) based on the value of those assets, the deceased’s estate. There are certain tax thresholds and tax reliefs that can be applied which can reduce the amount of IHT to be paid.

One of these tax reliefs is Inheritance Tax Taper Relief, and is applied to any ‘gifts’ the deceased made to family and friends before they died. Also known as the ‘7-Year Rule, what are the criteria for Inheritance Tax Taper Relief and how does it work?

What is Inheritance Tax Taper Relief?

IHT taper relief isn’t strictly speaking a tax relief. In reality, it only reduces the amount of tax payable on an asset, not the value of the asset. For example, if there isn’t any tax to pay on the gift, it is not possible to claim taper relief.

This means that any gift which is part of the IHT threshold, known as the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) – which currently sits at £325,000 per person or £650,000 if it has been transferred to another person – is not subject to tax.

IHT taper relief can only be applied if:

  • The gift was made over three years but less than seven years prior to the deceased’s death.
  • Tax is payable on the gift in its own right, which usually means it is a ‘gift with a reservation’, i.e. the gift is still in use and therefore considered part of the estate.

How does it work?

Any gifts that are given prior to death and subject to IHT; however, how much IHT the receiver of the gift pays depends on how many years before death the gift was given, i.e. it is tapered.

If the gift was given within three years before death, it would be subject to the full IHT tax rate because the taper relief percentage doesn’t start until three years have passed. The taper relief percentages are as follows:

Period between date of gift and donor’s deathTaper relief percentage appliedRate of tax on gift
0 – 3 years0%40%
3 – 4 years20%32%
4 – 5 years40%24%
5 – 6 years60%16%
6 – 7 years80%8%

If the gift was made more than seven years after death, in most cases, there will be no IHT to pay. The value of any lifetime gift is the first subject to the nil rate band threshold of £325,000. It is the amount remaining that can benefit from Inheritance Tax Taper Relief as long as it was gifted at least three years prior to death.

Lifetime gifts that have a value that is below the nil rate band will not benefit from IHT taper relief. In addition, the deceased’s estate will only benefit from the remaining amount of the threshold after the gift’s value has been deducted.

What qualifies as a gift?

A gift includes

  • Personal items, such as jewellery or antiques.
  • Household items, such as furniture.
  • Property, including a house, buildings or land.
  • Stocks and shares, as listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Unlisted shares, i.e. shares in an unlimited company, if you have held them for less than two years prior to your death.
  • Money; this also includes money that is left over should you sell a gift for less than it is worth.  For example, if you sell your property to a spouse or child for less than the market value, the monetary difference is considered a gift.

There are some ‘gifts’ you can make which may reduce the level of inheritance tax payable and, in some cases, result in no tax needing to be paid, such as gifts made to charities or political parties. Gifts made to your spouse/civil partner during your lifetime are exempt from inheritance tax but only if you are legally married or in a civil partnership and they live permanently in the UK. 

Everyone is entitled to make a gift up to £3,000 in any tax year, which isn’t added to your estate and is therefore liable for IHT.  This is called an ‘annual exemption’, and the gift can be made to one person or distributed between different people.  This gift amount can also be carried forward to the next tax year, but only for one year.

The inheritance tax-exempt rule is also applicable to annual birthday or Christmas gifts, up to the value of £250. You can also gift money towards a wedding or civil partnership ceremony. The level of gift can be

  • Up to £5,000 to a child.
  • Up to £2,500 to a grandchild or a great-grandchild.
  • Up to £1,000 to anyone else.

In addition, you are allowed to combine gifts, such as a wedding gift and another allowance, as long as it is for the same person and the other allowance is not the small gift allowance.

You are also entitled to make regular gift payments to help towards somebody else’s living. Called ‘normal expenditure out of income, there isn’t a limit to how much you give as long as you can afford the payments after you have met your own living costs, and it comes from your monthly income. This type of gift can include:

  • Making rent payments for your child.
  • Paying money into a savings account for a child that is under 18 years of age.
  • Providing financial support for an elderly relative.

These gifts can also be combined with other tax relief allowances, such as your annual £3,000 ‘annual exemption’ gift.

If you are giving gifts prior to your death, it is important to keep a full and detailed record of the gifts you have made, including

  • Who you gave them to and what you gave.
  • The value of the gift.
  • When you gave the gift.

The executors of your estate or solicitor that is handling the administration of your estate following your death, will need to know the details of the gifts you made in the seven years prior to your death so that they can calculate how much IHT is due on your estate.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How Can I Apply for Probate Myself in the United Kingdom?

Apply for Probate Myself

When a person dies in the United Kingdom, it is necessary to apply for Grant of Probate. Who applies depends on whether the deceased left a will or not. Even if the value of the deceased’s estate is below the tax threshold of £5,000, someone will still need to apply for probate.

If there is a will, in most cases, it will be the executors named in the will that apply for Grant of Probate. If there are no executors, it can either be the family’s appointed solicitor or a family member can apply for probate.

If there isn’t a will, the responsibility to apply for probate comes down to a family member to apply for what is called Letters of Administration via the Probate Service. Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration grant the applicant the authority to administer and manage the deceased’s estate.

Applying for probates doesn’t have to be done by someone from the legal profession. A friend or member of the family is able to apply for probate themselves, which is done via the Government’s MyHMCTS system. However, it must be noted that you will need to send certain documents, like the will, by post to the Probate Service offices for them to verify your application.

How to apply for probate

Using the MyHMCTS service is a simple, online way for anyone who is a family member, executor or close friend of the deceased to apply for probate. Since it was launched, around 30,000 probate applications have been submitted.

You can use MyHMCTS to submit probate applications that come under:

  • Deceased’s estates that have a will (grant of probate).
  • Deceased’s estates without a will (letters of administration).
  • Deceased’s estates with an annexed will (letters of administration).

In some cases, you can’t apply for probate online if:

  • It is the second grant of probate application for the same estate.
  • There is a foreign will.
  • The application is accompanied by a document to prove a copy of the will.
  • The person applying for grant of probate or letters of administration is under the age of 25 years.
  • The probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Acts 1892 and 1927, under rule 39.

The probate application process

Before you start your online probate application process, you will need to set up your user account on the MyHMCTS platform, pay the application fee (if applicable) and know the value of the deceased’s estate. Here are the steps you will need to do:

  • Create a MyHMCTS Payment by Account to pay the probate application fee. The fee is currently £273 for estates that are valued in excess of £5,000. For estates valued below this figure, there is no fee unless it is a second grant pertaining to the same estate, at which point a £20 fee is charged.
  • Then set up your MyHMCTS user account.
  • If the deceased’s estate is valued over the current Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold of £325,000, you will need to complete the tax forms IHT400 and IHT421 (depending on circumstances) if tax is due and send them to HMRC.

From this point, you will have to wait 20 working days before you can progress your online probate application process via the MyHMCTS platform. This is because the Probate Service needs to wait for HMRC to send them your completed IHT421 form.

Once you have completed the above steps and waited 20 working days (if applicable), sign in to your MyHMCTS account and commence the process to create a probate case following these steps:

  1. Click on ‘Create Case’ and from the drop-down menus, select the Jurisdiction, i.e. ‘Manage probate application’, choose the case type, such as ‘Grant of representation’ and then select the State. Once completed, click on ‘Start’.
  2. Click ‘No’ to the question about being a probate practitioner, at which point you will be prompted to add your name as the executor of the deceased’s estate – only answer yes to this question if there is a will and if you have been named in the will as an executor – or name the person acting as an executor as part of an appointed firm or trust nominee. If none of the above applies, select no.
  3. You will be asked to complete the deceased’s details, including their full name on the death certificate, their date of birth and date of death, their permanent address at the time of their death and whether they had any assets in another name.
  4. Complete the details in respect of Inheritance Tax and the forms you have completed, depending on whether the deceased died before 1st January 2022 or after this date. If the date of death was after 1st January 2022, new regulations mean that you may have to complete different forms.
  5. You will be asked which probate application you are making, i.e. grant of probate or letters of administration; enter the relevant details. Each type of application has a different set of questions, and you will be taken through them to add all the relevant information.
  6. Once this is completed, review a legal statement and declaration (you can change this if required). Once happy, send to any other executors (if applicable) to digitally sign unless you are authorised to digitally sign on their behalf.
  7. You will then be asked to pay the probate fee and if you require additional copies of the grant of probate/letters of administration. It is always a good idea to purchase a few extra copies at £1.50 each. Submit your application.

Although you have applied for probate online, you will still need to send physical documents to MyHMCTS for them to verify your application. These documents include:

  • The original will (if there is one) or annexed will.
  • The coversheet from your online application – you will need to print this – details your probate application reference number. If you don’t have a printer, write the reference number on a sheet of paper.
  • IHT205 and IHT217 inheritance tax forms if the estate is below the value of £5,000.
  • A copy of the signed legal statement and declaration.

Always make sure you keep copies of the documents you are sending and despatch using Royal Mail’s recorded delivery service. If you are sending a notarial copy or a court sealed copy of the will, you will need to send a cover letter as well that details where the original will is being kept and the reason why it is not being released. Your probate application should be completed within 8-12 weeks.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How to Track a Probate Application in the United Kingdom

Track a Probate Application

When a person dies, probate has to be applied for, whether the deceased has left a will or not. If there is a will, the executors will apply for a Grant of Probate. If there isn’t a will, a close relative or nearest family member should apply for Letters of Administration as part of the probate process, which gives them the authority to handle the deceased’s estate.

Currently, the probate application takes 4-6 weeks to receive a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. However, the entire probate process, i.e. from the date of death to the distribution of the deceased’s estate, takes around six months for a simple will and estate. The more complex the estate, the longer it may take. So, how do you track probate applications to monitor progress?

Applying for probate

First, let’s just review how to apply for probate. In most cases, you can apply for probate online via the HM Courts & Tribunals Service, MyHMCTS. To make the application, you will need certain documents and information, including:

  • The original will (if there is one) or annexed will.
  • The death certificate.
  • The deceased’s full name, address and date of death.

Once you have completed your online application, you will need to send the above documents to the Probate Service (MyHMCTS) so that they can verify your online application.

You will also need to complete and send the right Inheritance Tax forms to the Probate Service – these are IHT400 and IHT421 if the estate is over £5,000 and IHT200 and IHT217 inheritance tax form if it is below the value of £5,000 – who will then send them to HMRC for verification. This means that there will be little movement on the progress of your probate application until HMRC have returned the IHT forms.

There are several situations where you can’t use the online service to apply for probate. These are:

  • A second grant of probate application for the same estate.
  • A foreign will.
  • The application is accompanied by a document to prove a copy of the will.
  • The person applying is under the age of 25 years.
  • The probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Act 1892 and 1927, Rule 39.

Do I need to apply for probate?

Generally, if the value of the deceased’s estate is over £5,000, a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is required. 

If the deceased left a will, the appointed executor(s) apply for probate but if there is no will, the next of kin or a close family member will need to apply for Letters of Administration. This grants them the authority to handle the deceased’s estate. 

There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration are needed and these are:

  • One person has been left the entire estate.
  • There are no executors named in the will.
  • The named executors are not prepared to accept the role.

Only an executor of the deceased’s estate can apply for a Grant of Probate. 

However, if the majority of the deceased’s estate is jointly owned with their living spouse or civil partner, such as joint bank accounts or a mortgage, an application for a Grant of Probate may not be required.  Other circumstances when probate is not necessary are:

  • The estate is valued at less than £5,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate.  Suppose the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account. In that case, the bank has the discretion on whether they need a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to release the funds to beneficiaries.
  • If any money, i.e. bank accounts or property, is owned jointly with a living spouse or civil partner.

If you’re not sure if you need to apply for probate, contact our team at Probates Online to advise you.

How to track probate applications

If you are a beneficiary of the deceased’s estate or family, it is possible to find out if a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been granted, but that’s all you can do. You need to be the person(s) that applied for probate to be able to track the progress of a probate application.

When you create an online account with MyHMCTS, you will create login details for your probate application process. The probate service keeps your record up-to-date with progress and will detail each step as it is completed so that you can track it. Once probate has been granted, it is good to buy a copy of the Grant of Probate (if you didn’t make that request when you applied).

The Grant of Probate will contain information that is crucial to the handling of the deceased’s estate, including:

  • The date of death – this is related to the timings of administering the deceased’s estate.
  • Whether the deceased was domiciled in the UK or not – for any claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975), the deceased must have been domiciled in England or Wales.
  • Whether there is a will or the deceased died intestate (without a will).
  • The names of the executors/administrators who will act as defendants to any claim on a will or estate being contested.
  • The net value of the deceased’s estate.
  • The date probate was granted. Any claims under the above Act must be made within six months of the date probate is granted.

Having the date probate was granted will also give family and/or beneficiaries an idea of how long before they are likely to receive their inheritance.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

How Long Does a Grant of Probate Take in the United Kingdom?

Grant of Probate Take

When someone dies in the United Kingdom, if they leave an estate, i.e. their assets, that is valued at more than £5,000, an application for a Grant of Probate is necessary if there is a will. If there is no will, Letters of Administration will need to be applied for, which is a form of probate.

Only an executor of a will, or next of kin if there is no will, are allowed to apply for Grant of Probate, or Letters of Administration respectively. But how long is Grant of Probate time and what other aspects can speed up or delay the process?

What is a Grant of Probate?

Grant of Probate is the official authorisation from the court that allows the executor(s) of a deceased’s will to administer their estate. This includes assessing whether any Inheritance Tax (IHT) is due to be paid and settling with HMRC, finalising the deceased’s accounts and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the deceased’s wishes as detailed in their will.

Letters of Administration is the same as Grant of Probate but for deceaseds’ estates that do not have a will but grant the next of kin authorisation to administer the estate in the same way an executor would do so.

Is a Grant of Probate needed?

If the value of the deceased’s estate is over £5,000, then a Grant of Probate from the court is needed.

If the deceased left a will, the appointed executor(s) applies for a Grant of Probate. If there isn’t a will, the deceased’s next of kin or a family member applies for Letters of Administration; they will be called the Administrator. Both grant the recipient the authority to administer the deceased’s estate. 

There are other situations where Letters of Administration are needed instead of Grant of Probate, and they are:

  • One person has been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The named executors are not prepared to accept the role.

It is not always necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate. For example, if the majority of the deceased’s estate is jointly owned with their living spouse or civil partner.

What is the current Grant of Probate time?

The person’s death should be registered within five days and the application for Grant of Probate must be submitted to the Probate Registry within six months.  The reason for this is that any IHT due must be paid to HMRC within this time frame.  So, the earlier you can apply for a Grant of Probate, the quicker you will be able to submit the relevant forms to HMRC regarding the estate’s value.

The Grant of Probate time is normally within 8 weeks from the time the application is received. The Probate Registry will start to action your application – most individuals and solicitors apply online – but you will also need to send originals of certain documents, like the death certificate. Any delay in sending these documents may result in the approval of the Grant of Probate.

When you submit your application, you will need to pay an application fee, which is currently £273 if the estate is valued at over £5,000. If below this valuation figure, there is no fee to pay. It is always advisable to purchase at least one extra copy of the Grant of Probate document (£1.50/copy) as you may need to send an original copy to other parties, such as HMRC. However, the Probate Registry is still catching up from the delays incurred during the Covid-19 pandemic so it may take a few weeks longer to receive a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

Applying for Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration

The process for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is similar.  Before you apply, make sure you have: 

  • An official copy of the death certificate (if applying online, you can scan the certificate as an image to upload it and send the original by post);
  • The original will;
  • The application fee.

You can only apply for probate online if all the named executors are alive and able to make decisions and the deceased lived the majority of their life in England and Wales.

If the executor(s) or next of kin aren’t sure about applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, a solicitor is able to complete the process on their behalf. If there is a will, the process for applying is:

  • Complete and submit Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration forms. It’s a good idea to complete HMRC’s inheritance tax forms at the same time. All of the forms can be submitted online but you will need to send the original documents, such as the will and death certificate, as well.
  • Pay any inheritance tax due on the estate to HMRC, if applicable. The Probate Registry will liaise with HMRC to ensure this has been completed.
  • Whilst waiting, pay any outstanding debt, such as utility bills, credit card balances, loans or mortgages.
  • If there’s life insurance, contact the company to claim the fund’s payout as this may be enough to cover any outstanding debts and funeral costs.

At the same time, the application is being processed, advise beneficiaries of progress and contact the utility companies, banks, insurers and mortgage providers to request they close the deceased’s account. This stops any additional charges from being applied; also ask them to send a final statement.

If there is no will, the deceased’s next of kin or a close relative will need to apply for Letters of Administration which you can do yourself via post using the form PA1A, the probate application form. 

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Best Guide to Transfer Ownership of a Property after Death in the UK

Guide to Transfer Ownership of a Property

When a relative or friend dies, there may be a property that is part of the estate which has been left in the will to a beneficiary or needs to be sold. The property’s ownership will need to be transferred to either the co-owner, usually a spouse or civil partner, if in both of their names, transferred to the new owner if being sold, or transferred to the beneficiary.

Transferring ownership is changing the name of the owner on the property’s Title Deeds. Different situations, such as whether there is a will or not, and whether the property is tenanted, require different documentation. Here are the steps you need to take to transfer ownership of a property after death.

Transferring a property with or without a will

To transfer ownership of a property after death to a new name is known as a title transfer. However, the process depends on whether the deceased left a will or not. If there is a will, the title transfer will be handled by the executor(s) of the will according to the deceased’s wishes when they have received a Grant of Probate. If there is no will, the Rules of Intestacy will apply, which detail who is allowed to inherit from the estate, and thereby the property, i.e. succession laws, but this cannot happen until Letters of Administration have been granted by the court and an ‘administrator’ appointed.

To transfer the ownership, the executor(s) or administrator of the estate needs complete two forms that are sent to Land Registry, which are:

  • Form AS1 – this form represents the whole of the registered property title and confirms that you, as executor(s) or administrator(s) of the deceased’s estate approve the transfer of the property to the beneficiary, or beneficiaries.
  • Form AP1 – this form is the Change of Register that the Land Registry uses to complete the transfer.
  • Form TRI – if the property is being sold, this form is used by conveyancers to transfer ownership of the property to the buyers. This form registers the property with the Land Registry. However, if only part of the registered title is being transferred, i.e. to a new joint owner, use Form TP1.

A certified or sealed copy of the Grant of Representation – which is the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, a copy of the official death certificate and, in some cases, a copy of the will – must also be sent to the Land Registry with the forms.

Whilst you don’t necessarily need a solicitor to transfer ownership of a property after death, once the new title deeds of the property have been issued by Land Registry, you will need a notary – a qualified lawyer specialising in property law or probate – as they will need to ‘notarize’ the new deeds. Essentially, they act as a legal witness to you signing the deeds, and any accompanying documents, and once signed, they will add a seal to your title deeds indicating the signature is official and legal.

Transferring ownership of a property in joint names

If the property is owned with another person, usually a spouse or civil partner, the property is automatically inherited by the surviving spouse/civil partner, which is called the Right of Survivorship. Although the property’s title deeds already have the joint owners’ (joint tenants) names on the deeds, you will still need to notify the Land Registry of the change in circumstances using the Deceased Joint Proprietor form. This will need to be sent to the Land Registry along with a copy of the official death certificate.

If there is a mortgage on the property, whoever inherits the property also inherits the mortgage. In this situation, the beneficiary must get permission from the mortgage provider to transfer the property into a sole name. They will assess your ability to pay the mortgage repayments before granting permission.

The property may have been owned by joint owners whereby each owner had a share in the property. Known as Tenants in Common, one owner is entitled to leave their share of the property to someone other than the other joint owner, or in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy if there is no will.

Is there a cost to transfer ownership of a property?

Yes, there is a minimal charge to transfer the ownership of a property after death. In some cases, a stamp duty tax is also applied if the property is valued at over £125,000. The costs involved are:

  • Land Registry fee – how much you pay Land Registry to transfer the property into a new name depends on the circumstances, but it is currently £40 minimum.
  • Joint owners fee – for those that are going to be joint owners of more than one property, i.e. the beneficiary already jointly owns one property and the transferred property will also be jointly owned, there is an additional Land Registry fee of up to £150.
  • Notary’s fee – you will also need to pay the notary for witnessing your signature, sealing and notarizing the new title deeds of the property. How much you pay will depend on the notary or complete package service you use.
  • Register the deed – following notarization, you may have to pay another small fee to the Land Registry to officially register the title deed with them.

There is no law to say that you must remove the deceased’s name from the title deeds of inherited property. However, it is recommended to keep the Land Registry up-to-date with any changes of ownership to ensure any future transactions with that property are accurate; for example, if you wanted to sell the property at a later date, transferring ownership to the buyers will be a simpler process for the conveyancers. It is also a good way to avoid being the victim of any scams or fraudulent activity as the Land Registry will be able to track the accurate ownership of the property.

At Probates Online, we offer a complete property title change of ownership service including acting as a notary of the titled deeds. We also provide a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.

Where to Find the Online Probate Application & How to Apply for Probate

Online Probate Application

When someone dies and leaves a will, it is the duty of the deceased’s family, solicitor or executors to officially apply for authorisation to administer the deceased’s estate. Whether the estate is valued below or above the Inheritance Tax threshold, grant of probate is still required.

If the deceased did not leave at will, a family member or solicitor will need to apply for letters of administration, which comes from the court, which gives that person the authority to administer the estate of the deceased.

You can apply for Online Probate Application via the government’s MyHMCTS platform, whether it is grant of probate or letters of administration, although you will still be required to send the relevant documentation by post.

Applying for probate online

MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service) was established in 2018 as part of the courts reform and to speed up the probate process when someone dies. Using the MyHMCTS service provides for a simpler, online method to apply for probate by either family members or executors of a deceased, as well as by legal probate specialists. Since its inception, around 30,000 probate applications have been submitted; 4,466 probate specialists have registered to use MyHMCTS and 92% of users have been satisfied or very satisfied with the service.

You can use MyHMCTS to make probate applications that fall under:

  • Deceased’s estates that have a will (grant of probate).
  • Deceased’s estates without a will (letters of administration).
  • Deceased’s estates with an annexed will (letters of administration).

In some cases, it is not possible to apply for probate online, such as:

  • It is a second grant of probate application for the same estate.
  • When there is a foreign will.
  • When the application is accompanied with a document to prove a copy of the will.
  • When the person applying for grant of probate or letters of administration is under the age of 25 years.
  • When the probate application is related to resealing under Colonial Probates Acts 1892 and 1927, under rule 39.

How to apply for probate online

Before you or a professional is able to start the online probate process, there are several steps that need to be taken first. You will need to:

  • Create a MyHMCTS Payment by Account in order to pay the probate application fee. Currently, the fee is £273 for estates that are valued in excess of £5,000. For estates valued below this figure, there is no fee, unless it is a second grant pertaining to the same estate when a £20 fee is charged.
  • If you are a probate specialist working for a firm, you will need to register your firm with MyHMCTS before you can proceed.
  • You will also need to set up your MyHMCTS user account.
  • If the deceased’s estate is valued over the current Inheritance Tax (IHT) threshold of £325,000, you will need to complete forms IHT400 and IHT421 (depending on circumstances) and send them to HMRC. You will not be able to apply for probate online via the MyHMCTS platform for 20 working days. This is because the Probate Service needs to wait for HMRC to send them the completed IHT421 form.

Once you have completed the above steps, and waited 20 working days (if applicable), you will be able to sign in to your MyHMCTS account to create a probate case following these steps:

  1. Start your online probate application by clicking on ‘Create Case’. From the drop down menus, select the Jurisdiction, i.e. ‘Manage probate application’, choose the case type, such as ‘Grant of representation’ and then select the State. Once completed, click on ‘Start’.
  2. You will be asked for your organisation’s details, i.e. whether you are a probate practitioner. If you answer no to this question, you will then be prompted to name the executor – only answer yes to this question if there is a will and the person applying has been named in the will as an executor – or to name the person acting as an executor as part of an appointed firm or trust nominee. If none of the above apply, select no.
  3. You will now be asked to complete the deceased’s details, including their full name on the death certificate, their date of birth and date of death, their permanent address at the time of their death and whether they had any assets in another name.
  4. On the next screen will be the details in respect of Inheritance Tax and the forms completed, depending on whether the deceased died before 1st January 2022 or after this date. If the date of death was after 1st January 2022, new regulations mean that you may have had to complete different forms
  5. You will be asked which probate application you are making, i.e. grant of probate or letters of administration, and then enter the relevant details. Each type of application has a different set of questions and you will be taken through a set of different screens to add all the information.
  6. Once this is completed, you will be required to review a legal statement and declaration (you can change this if required). Once happy, send to other executors (if applicable) to digitally sign, unless you are authorised to digitally sign on their behalf.
  7. You will then be asked to pay the probate fee and if you require additional copies of the grant of probate/letters of administration. It is always a good idea to purchase a few extra copies at £1.50 each. Then submit your application.

Although you have applied for probate online, you will still need to send physical documents to MyHMCTS for them to verify your application. These documents include:

  • The original will (if there is one) or annexed will.
  • The coversheet from your online application – you will need to print this – that details your probate application reference number. If you don’t have a printer, write the reference number of a sheet of paper.
  • IHT205 and IHT217 inheritance tax forms if the estate is below the value of £5,000.
  • A copy of the signed legal statement and declaration.

Always make sure you keep copies of the documents you are sending and despatch using Royal Mail’s recorded delivery service. If you are sending a notarial copy or a court-sealed copy of the will, you will need to send a cover letter as well that details where the original will is being kept and the reason why it is not being released. Your probate application should be completed within 8-12 weeks.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration, or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.