What does the probate registry do?

13 January 2021

The probate registry is part of the HM Courts & Tribunal Service. It issues legal documents which give people the authority to deal with the estate of someone who has died.

The probate registry issue a grant of probate to an executor named in a will.

The probate registry also issue a grant of letters of administration when there isn't a valid will. (Or if there is a will but this doesn't name an executor or the executor is unable or unwilling to apply.)

The umbrella term, which can be used to refer to either of these two documents, is a grant of representation. All of these terms refer to a legal document that is sealed by the court.

Applying for a grant of probate

If you are applying for a grant of probate yourself you need to complete one of the probate application forms which can be complex and time consuming, or our specialist team of probate solicitors can deal with the complete probate application process for you. If you do decide to apply for probate yourself, it's important to understand your responisbilities in full and the personal liability you'll be taking on.

Inheritance tax forms

You will also need to complete an HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) tax form, whether or not inheritance tax is payable on the deceased persons estate. The probate registry will not issue a grant of probate until you confirm that no inheritance tax is payable or until HMRC has confirmed to the probate registry that the grant can be issued.

Visiting the probate registry

You may need to visit the probate registry if you are dealing with probate yourself. However, when you instruct our probate solicitors to deal with probate for you, you will not have to visit a probate registry office, because we'll take care of everything for you.

The probate registry offers a service to store wills for safe keeping. You can deposit your will yourself in person or by post or ask someone else to take it to the probate registry for you. If you ask someone else to deposit your will for you, you must provide them with a letter of authority to act on your behalf.

If you book an appointment to deposit your will, you'll be given an envelope then asked to provide your details and seal the will in the envelope, witnessed by a Probate Services Officer. The officer will sign the envelope. It will then be sent to the Principal Probate Registry for safekeeping. The probate registry will post you a certificate of deposit to confirm safe receipt within two weeks.

You may need also need to visit the probate registry if you register a caveat. A caveat is a way of preventing a grant of probate from being issued where a person has grounds to oppose an application for a grant. You can visit any probate registry to register a caveat, or our probate solicitors can deal with this for you.

Help with probate

When you instruct Co-op Legal Services probate solicitor to carry out probate on your behalf, we'll take care of all the legal, administrative and tax work for you. This includes liaising with the probate registry and applying for the grant of probate or grant of letters of administration.

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