There are several challenges associated with the probate process. If you do not have experience in this area, you may encounter unknown terminology and documents which you need to take care of – and at the same time, you are also dealing with the grief of losing a loved one.
When you are going through such a challenging period in your life, it may give you some comfort if you are already well-informed about exactly what probate property is, and the steps you should take to get everything in order. This short guide should give you all the information you require.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of sorting out someone’s ‘estate’ (property, money and possessions) after they have passed away, in accordance with their will. It is typically the executor(s) of the deceased person’s will that applies for permission to take charge of this process.
According to the UK Government website, if the estate’s value is more than £5,000, the application for probate will cost £273. If the value is less than this, there is no fee.
Keep in mind that the terminology for probate is slightly different in Scotland. It is called ‘confirmation’ there, regardless of whether a will exists or not, whereas in England ‘probate’ refers to dealing with an estate when a will exists.
Is probate always necessary?
It is sometimes possible to avoid probate entirely, depending on the circumstances.
If the deceased person’s estate has a very small value, then you typically will not need to go through the probate process. This is because some financial institutions have a minimum value, below which they don’t require to see a grant of probate before releasing funds to those in the will.
Furthermore, if the person who has passed away jointly owned their assets with a surviving person (for example, their spouse or civil partner) then these will be automatically transferred to them.
How easy is it to submit a grant of probate?
Before you apply for a grant of probate, you must ensure that probate is necessary. Please see our guidance in the section above, and speak to an expert in this field, to determine whether this is the case.
A probate application form (also known as a PA1P form) can be found on the UK Government website. You can either print this document off and send it by post to the address listed on the document – or, alternatively, you can complete your application online.
What details will I need to complete the probate process?
To complete the probate process, you will need a few important documents. These include:
- a will
- birth certificate
- death certificate
- any codicils to the will (a legal document outlining any changes the deceased may have made)
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
If you are reading this while a loved one is unwell, but not yet passed, then you may want to consult with them to ensure that all of these documents are located in advance. You may also want to find any other paperwork relating to the property or other assets, just in case they become relevant.
Can I complete probate without a solicitor?
Yes, it is possible to complete probate without a solicitor helping you. If you opt for this route, then you will need to follow a few key steps.
Firstly, once the death has been registered, you will be able to apply for probate. As mentioned above, this will cost you £273 if the estate’s value is more than £5,000.
Your next step should be to complete an inheritance tax form. This step is mandatory, regardless of whether the estate’s value is above or below the tax threshold. As part of this step, you will need to calculate the estimated value of the estate.
After this, you should contact all the relevant organisations and bodies about the passing of your loved one. Some important places to get in touch with include:
- Mortgage providers
- Building societies
- Government bodies
- Utility companies
You should also check whether there are any life insurance policies you can claim.
Next, you should pay off any debts or inheritance tax that is owed, if you are the executor/administrator of the estate.
The next step is to decide what will be done with any inherited property. This can be one of the most challenging things to deal with, because you may need to consult with your siblings, family members or friends who have a financial or emotional interest in the property, to ensure a satisfying resolution for as many people as possible. Of course, if you wish to sell the inherited house quickly, then this is a common option as long as all required parties agree to do so – and a cash house buyer like We Buy Any Home can make it happen within seven days.
From here, the funds from the estate should be distributed amongst the beneficiaries. This should be done either as stipulated in the will or fairly between the immediate next of kin.
Keep in mind that the time it takes you to complete all of the above steps will vary, based on the size and complexity of the estate, whether there is an inherited property that you are required to sell, and also whether the will is disputed.
A grant of probate typically takes between four and eight weeks to arrive, so this time must be factored in as well. For more information about how long probate takes, click on the link.
Can I sell a property in probate?
Yes, you can sell a property in probate.
Firstly, you should arrange a few independent valuations with an estate agent, who can give an accurate estimate of the property’s worth in the current market.
Furthermore, if the house is empty while it is listed on the market, you should check if a life insurance policy still covers its contents – and ensure that the house doesn’t feel too damp, or empty, when people are looking round by occasionally turning the heating or lights on.
In most ways, the sale of a probate property is no different to the sale of a normal property. Contact us today to find out how we can help you