Need some help with probate? A brief guide to this process in the UK


When you have lost a loved one, the last thing you are going to want to do is to deal with administrative issues that come along with such an event.

And, should the passing of a loved one occur when they were too young to have a will or with a lost or complicated will, then you will probably need to apply for probate to ensure that their estate is handled legally.

So, with that in mind, the following guide introduces probate law in the UK and how probate solicitors Portsmouth can help you.

What is probate?

OK, most people have heard of probate but few (fortunately) actually know what it is.

The dictionary definition of probate is ‘the official proving of a will’ which is, to be frank, extremely vague!

In more legal terms, probate refers to the dealing of someone’s estate (assets or money) after they pass away which is a much more clear definition and will obviously involve a will.

Applying for probate

Applying for probate can seem like a daunting process, but in a nutshell, it involves a number of things. First registering the death, this must be done within 5 days of the death occurring and must be done at your nearby registry office.

Next finding the will. If the will is found, then the executors must be notified which can be left to your solicitor to do. If there is no will, then you will need legal help to begin the division of assets and will have to apply to the court with letters of administration.

Arranging the funeral is usually the first step many families take and, along with the funeral, you will need to begin valuing the estate. If your deceased loved one has an estate that is valued at more than £5,000 or they have stocks, bonds or high-value properties, your solicitors can help with this stage.

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Once the assets have been released, you need to use them to pay off any debts your loved one had. This could be any bills which have accrued and prior to the release of money left over being transferred to executors, you will need to pay inheritance tax with HMRC.

How long does probate take?

With a recognised will, probate can take anywhere between 3-6 weeks after the application has been submitted for you to receive the assets of your loved one.

If your loved one did not leave a will, then you can expect it to take slightly longer.

Inheritance tax

And on to the part no one likes – inheritance tax.

In the UK, this must be filed within 12 months from the last day of the month when the death took place.

If your loved one left you a sum of £325,000, then you will need to pay inheritance tax. Anything under this amount is exempt. This amount applies per person to those named in a will.

Do you always need probate?

In short, no.

If your loved one died with a will and a small estate, you will not need probate.

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