When someone dies, their family or executors must apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, depending on whether there is a will or not. Probate is the legal process that any deceased person’s estate goes through, whether there is a will or not.
The size of the deceased’s estate and whether the deceased left a will usually determine how long the probate process takes. But what is the Grant of Probate cost?
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process by which an estate is divided after someone has died, including financial and physical assets, such as property, and how it is distributed to the named beneficiaries.
Generally, if the deceased left a will that details who is going to inherit what in terms of money, property or any other assets, the probate process can take up to 12 months to complete. This really does depend on the size of the estate. However, if there isn’t a will, probate can take much longer. What will delay the process further is if there are any disputes between the beneficiaries or over the administration of the estate, which is known as contentious probate.
However, there are cases where probate is not required:
- If the estate is worth less than £10,000 and there are no shares or land as part of the estate. If the estate is particularly small and there is only a token amount in a bank account, the bank has the discretion to make the decision whether they need a Grant of Probate to release the funds.
- If any money, i.e. bank accounts or property, is owned jointly with a spouse or civil partner.
In reality, the threshold for probate ranges from £5,000 to £50,000. Each bank or financial institution has its own policies regarding a deceased person’s assets.
If there is a will, executors will have been named and appointed; it is their job to administer the estate and apply for a Grant of Probate. The executor can be a family member, a friend of the deceased or the solicitor that holds the will, but it’s better if they are not a beneficiary. If there is no will or executors, someone representing the deceased will need to apply to the court for the authority to administer the deceased’s estate. This is usually the next of kin, and they will need to apply for ‘letters of administration’.
There are other circumstances where letters of administration are required:
- You have been left the entire estate;
- There are no executors named in the will;
- The executors are not prepared to accept the role.
Only the executors of the estate can apply for a Grant of Probate. If there is no executor of the estate, a next of kin or a close relative has to apply for letters of administration in order to handle the deceased’s estate; they are known as the administrator of the estate, not an executor.
What is a Grant of Probate?
Grant of Probate is the official authorisation from the court that allows the executor(s) named by the deceased in their will to administer their estate. This includes having the assets valued to assess the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) due to be paid, finalising the deceased’s accounts and distributing assets to beneficiaries according to the deceased’s will.
Letters of Administration are the same as a Grant of Probate but for the deceased’s estates that do not have a will. The next of kin is granted the authorisation to administer the estate in the same way an executor would do so.
Applying for Grant of Probate Online
Launched in 2017, the online probate service makes it far easier for executors, solicitors and family members of the deceased to apply for a grant of probate, saving time on many of the legal processes. However, you will still be required to send original copies of the relevant paperwork, including the death certificate and the deceased’s will to the Probate Service. But the statement of truth can be made online – executors no longer have to visit the probate office to swear their oath. In addition, the grant of probate cost can be done electronically, too.
The legal profession can also apply for intestacy or grant of letters of administration as part of a will annexed application. It is also possible to stop a grant of probate from being issued, known as a caveat, through the online probate service, if necessary.
The online probate service allows executors, administrators and solicitors to view their probate applications and forms on a dashboard, as well as monitor the process of their probate application. According to MyHMCTS, the only documentation that needs to be sent to them is the original will, a copy of the death certificate and the Inheritance Tax forms.
Grant of Probate cost
To use the online probate service, a Pay By Account (PBA) account will need to be opened, which links you with MyHMCTS’s fee account system, where you can pay for your online probate application. Once registered as an executor or administrator, you will be able to start your online probate application.
Once you have had the deceased’s assets – property and possessions – valued and reported to HMRC, you can apply for a grant of probate online. The current fee is £215, and it can be paid online through MyHMCTS’s when you submit your application. If the value of the estate is lower than £5,000, MyHMCTS waives this fee.
It is advisable to order extra copies of your grant of probate as they will be needed during the process of administering the deceased’s estate. There is a cost for this as well, which is currently 50p per copy.
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.