After someone dies, there’s work to be done around settling their legal and financial affairs – paying off debts, transferring deeds, closing bank accounts and so on. This is the job of the executor of a will, and they’ll likely need a grant of probate to do it.

So, what does ‘grant of probate’ mean, and how do you go about getting one? Let’s take a look.


What is a grant of probate?

A grant of probate is a legal document that the executor of a will can use as proof of their right to settle the estate (that’s the money, property and assets) of someone who has died. In cases where someone has died without a will, the equivalent is getting letters of administration.

You don’t always need a grant of probate or letters of administration to sort out someone’s estate. But many banks, insurance companies and other organisations won’t let you access the accounts of someone who’s died without one of the two.


How to get a grant of probate

In some cases, the executor of the will can now apply for a grant of probate online. You’ll need to have:

  • A copy of the original will
  • An original death certificate or a coroner’s interim death certificate
  • Already reported the estate’s value to HMRC, which you can now also do online

If you don’t meet these conditions – or if you’d simply rather not apply online – you can still send your application for a grant of probate by post. You’ll need to fill in form PA1P (if there is a will) or PA1A (if there is no will) and send it to the probate registry.

You’ll also need to send:

  • The original will (if there is one) and any additions to it
  • 2 copies of the will, with additions, on plain A4 paper
  • The death certificate or interim death certificate

If there is no will, you’ll need to apply for letters of administration instead. More on this here.


Do I have to pay?

If the estate is worth £5,000 or more, you will need to pay for the grant of probate. Fees are set to change, but the current charge is £215, plus 50p for each additional copy. You can pay over the phone, or by sending a cheque along with your documents.

If the estate is worth less than £5,000, you may not need a grant of probate. Read our guide “When is probate required?” to find out more.

Applying for a grant of probate can be a time-consuming, difficult business. You’ll need to do a comprehensive review of the finances of the person who has died. Mistakes can be costly. For this reason, some people like to hire a professional to take care of it for them. You can find out more about how much these services charge here.


How long does it take to get a grant of probate?

There’s a lot of admin involved in applying for a grant of probate. It will take around 4-8 weeks to calculate the total value of the estate and report it to HMRC. You need to contact all the different organisations holding the funds and assets of the person who has died, get valuations for any property, and work out how much (if any) inheritance tax is due.

After that, it will take another 4-8 weeks to get the grant of probate. That said, you won’t be working on it that whole time: once the application has been sent out, the grant takes up to 20 working days to arrive. It can be faster if you use a professional service to apply.

As for all that comes next – you can find out all the timings for the estate administration process here.


Need a hand?

Now you know how to obtain a grant of probate (and all the hard work that goes into it) you might be thinking that a little help wouldn’t go amiss.

Whether you just need a hand with your probate application, or you’d like someone to oversee the whole process of settling the estate from start to finish, Beyond can take care of it. Our fixed-fee service starts at just £695. Call us on 0800 054 9896 to find out more.

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