My father left a will – do I need to apply for probate?
It’s a misnomer that Probate is not needed when someone has left a will. If the Estate is valued above the Probate threshold and the assets were held in the deceased person’s sole name, then Probate will be needed.
Where do I start?
1. By finding the will.
There is no legal obligation to register a will, so it’s best to make sure you have found the most recent copy. You might be best to start with looking through his paperwork at home or ask the bank or his solicitor.
If the will has been registered, you can check with the National Wills Register for a small fee of £33 +VAT. Their contact details can be found at the bottom of this article.
2. Establish who is the Executor and apply for a Grant of Representation
Your father’s will should name his executors. They are legally able to collect any money owed, pay outstanding bills and distribute what’s left. But to do so, the executor will need to apply for a grant of representation.
3. Value the estate
This is usually the job of the Executor named in the will. Assuming your father’s assets were owned solely by him, a detailed list of assets should be made, along with their value.
If your father’s estate is worth less than £5,000, then it is possible your father’s bank may only need to see the death certificate. Each bank will set their own Probate ‘threshold’, so it’s worth checking this with them.
Assets above the threshold
Whether or not there is a valid will, Probate is required for all Estates where assets are above a certain value and are solely owned by the deceased.
In this case, as we mentioned above, it’s usually the job of the Executor, named in the will, who will apply for a grant of representation.
4. Pay Inheritance Tax
In this case, where the deceased person has survived the spouse, Inheritance Tax would be paid if the Estate was valued more than £650,000. In England & Wales Inheritance Tax must be paid by the end of the sixth month after the person dies, and it’s normally a requirement to pay this before Probate can be issued.
5. Collect the Estate’s assets
Once you’ve obtained a Grant of Representation the assets of the Estate must be collected. This will usually involve gathering money from the sale of a house, land or other assets. It also likely to involve closing down bank accounts and collecting pension(s) monies.
6. Pay any debts
Once you’ve collected the assets, you’ll be able to settle any outstanding bills from the Estate.
7. Prepare Estate Accounts
So, all the assets have been collected, you are satisfied all outstanding bills, debts and Inheritance Tax have been paid, the next step is to prepare the final Estate Accounts.
8. Distribute the Estate
Assuming the beneficiaries are happy with the Estate accounts, the Estate can be distributed in accordance with the terms of the will.
Do I need to use a solicitor?
No, you’re under no obligation to use one, even if the will is stored by one. You can apply yourself, or use a person licensed to provide probate services. However, the process can be complicated and lengthy, typically taking between 6-9 months.
Seek professional help if you are at all concerned. Most lawyers will provide you with a fixed price quotation free of charge and will include all the administrative, legal and Inheritance Tax work in their price.
For further information and advice please contact us, we’re here to help.
National Wills Register
T: 0330 1000 3660
Wills, Probate & Inheritance
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.