Can I Do Probate Myself?
01 September 2017
When someone passes away, their possessions, savings and property will need to be dealt with. In certain circumstances, Probate will need to be obtained which will give you the legal right to deal with these.
You can do Probate yourself, if you are prepared to deal with all the paperwork (including legal, financial and tax) and take on all the responsibilities, and in England and Wales there are rules about who is allowed to apply for Probate.
With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
Who Can Apply for Probate?
If someone dies and has left a Will, those named as Executors (people who have been nominated to carry out the deceased person’s last wishes) will have to deal with their savings, property and possessions in accordance with the Will and they will be entitled to apply for Probate.
If someone dies without a Will, their next of kin can deal with their savings, property and possessions under the Rules of Intestacy and they are also entitled to Probate. For the purposes of Probate, this person is called the Administrator.
How to Apply for Probate
In order to obtain Probate, you will need to submit an application to the Probate Registry, which is part of HM Courts & Tribunals Service. The aim of this is to get a Grant of Representation. This involves sending the following to the Probate Registry:
- A Probate application form
- An Inheritance Tax form
- The Probate Registry fee
- An official copy of the death certificate
- The original Will and three copies
You will also be required to attend an interview at a local Probate Registry office, where you will be asked to swear an Oath to confirm that the information you have provided is true. You can also swear the Oath at any office of a Commissioner for Oaths, or at a local Solicitors’ office.
Probate Application Form
The Probate application form is called a PA1 form. You’ll need to provide information about the deceased, including their name, address, details of foreign domicile, their relatives, Wills and codicils, and assets held in other names.
Inheritance Tax Form
The Inheritance Tax form requires a detailed account of the deceased person’s finances, possessions and other information, such as large value gifts given to friends or relatives in the seven years before they died. This information has to be as accurate as possible.
In order to complete the Inheritance Tax form, the Executor or Administrator must make a list of all the deceased person’s assets and work out their value. If the total value is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, the tax due must be paid to HM Revenue & Customs. Usually this must be paid before a Grant of Representation will be issued.
Help with Probate
However, obtaining Probate for some Estates can be a big undertaking, particularly if they are large or complex – for instance, if it contains overseas property or other assets.
There is also a personal risk involved, as the person applying for Probate can be held accountable if a mistake is made. Sometimes this will have financial implications. For example, if you make an error on the Inheritance Tax form, HMRC may penalise you.
Furthermore, what people might not consider is that getting Probate is only the first hurdle to overcome. Once a Grant of Representation has been issued, the Estate then needs to be administered. This might involve gathering in the assets, selling or transferring property, paying off the deceased’s debts, placing Deceased Estate Notices in the local papers, and distributing the Estate to the beneficiaries.
The Executor or Administrator must keep a detailed record of all the money in the Estate, and provide Estate Accounts at the end of the process.
Again, the Executor or Administrator can be found liable for any mistakes that are made, and they may have to meet the cost of these errors from their own pocket.
Therefore getting Probate and going through the Estate administration process is a big undertaking that carries a lot of responsibility. That’s why many people choose to instruct Co-op Legal Services to deal with Probate and Estate administration on their behalf.
This relieves the burden from their shoulders, as they can rest assured that the Co-op Probate Solicitors and specialists, who only deal with Probate, are working to provide closure as soon as possible.