Which inheritance tax form do I need to apply for probate?

19 September 2018

In order to apply for probate in England or Wales, the executors or administrators of the estate must complete an inheritance tax form. This is the case even if there is no inheritance tax to pay in respect of the estate. The inheritance tax form must be completed whether or not the deceased left a Will.

With our probate complete Service, we can take care of all the legal, tax and administrative work for you. This includes valuing the estate, calculating inheritance tax and handling all correspondence with HMRC.

We offer transparent, fixed fee pricing and will provide you with a fixed quote before any work begins. There are no upfront costs to pay, as our fee will be taken from The estate once it is in funds.

If you are planning to apply for probate yourself, you'll need to value the deceased person's estate (everything they owned on the date of death), to calculate whether inheritance tax is due and, if so, how much.

You will then need to complete the correct inheritance tax form, make arrangements to pay the inheritance tax, and deal directly with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) yourself. If any mistakes are made you can be held personally liable for these.

Inheritance tax reference number

If there is any inheritance tax to pay on the deceased's estate, you will need to obtain an inheritance tax reference number and payslip from HMRC. You can apply for this by completing Form IHT422 and sending it to HMRC together with Form IHT400. You can also apply for an IHT reference number online.

Obtaining probate and paying inheritance tax

Before the probate registry (Court) will issue the grant of probate or grant of letters of administration, any inheritance tax due must be paid. At the very latest, it must be paid six months after the end of the month in which the deceased person died. So, if someone died on 5 February, the tax is due by 31 August.

It is possible to transfer money directly from one of the deceased person's bank or building society accounts to pay the inheritance tax.

The inheritance tax forms needed to apply for probate

There are two inheritance tax forms – IHT205 and IHT400. In order to know which you need to complete you will need to work out how much the deceased's estate is worth. You will need a valuation of all the deceased's assets, together with details of any liabilities (debts) the deceased had, this will enable you to establish the value of the deceased's estate.

If there is no inheritance tax to pay then Form IHT205 is used. Guidance notes for filling out Form IHT205 can be found here.

If inheritance tax is payable then Form IHT400 needs to be completed. Guidance notes for filling out Form IHT400 can be found here.

You can also make an online application for an inheritance tax reference number

Form IHT400

This form is a much longer document than Form IHT205 and more detail is required to complete it. There are supplemental pages to the form, some which may need to be completed.

If the estate is more complex (if it contains foreign assets or the deceased made significant gifts before they died, for example) then you may have to consider completing From IHT400.


HMRC can sometimes take 6 months to review the IHT400 form and confirm they are satisfied that all inheritance tax due has been paid.

While it is posible to complete probate yourself, the probate process is complicated and is very time consuming. The average time it takes to wind up all the estate administration affairs is 9-12 months but complex estates often take much longer.

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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