The Probate Process

When someone close to us dies the grief can be all-consuming. When you are also the person responsible for dealing with the affairs or administration of the estate of the person who has died, the responsibility can be overwhelming.

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Welcome to our page explaining the probate process. We are a firm who specialise in dealing with probate and estate administration. At Seatons, we offer a helpful and friendly service with low fees that provide exceptional value for money.  Please call us today for a free, no-obligation chat on 01536 276300 or contact us online.

The Probate Process

When someone close to us dies the grief can be all-consuming. When you are also the person responsible for dealing with the affairs or administration of their estate, the responsibility can be overwhelming.


If the deceased left a will then that usually the Will appoints Executors who are the persons responsible for administering the estate including collecting in the assets, paying off any debts,  and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.

In these circumstances, the first step would be to apply for a Grant of Probate from the court, which gives legal authority to the Executors named in the Will. This involves submitting to the Probate Registry statement, the Inheritance Tax  form, the original will and death certificate, as well as paying the applicable court fees.

No Will - Intestacy

If there is no Will then the probate process becomes a little more complicated – who will deal with the probate process and who gets what?

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died ‘intestate’. In these cases, the Administration of Estates Act 1925 lays down who can administer the estate and who inherits and in what proportions – these are known as the Intestacy Rules.

One of the deceased’s relatives will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This statement is a similar process to that of applying for a Grant of Probate, it requires a application to be completed as well as an inheritance form.

In this situation, it may be advisable to seek legal advice. You will be required to provide information about the deceased’s family tree, which will enable the solicitor to then advise who will be entitled to deal with the probate process (and be the administrator) and ultimately who will benefit from the estate.

Once it has been identified who the administrator will be and the person accepts the role as the administrator, they have the same basic responsibility as an executor would and will  be responsible for dealing with the administration of the deceases estate.

If you need help with the probate process then please call us at Seatons on 01536 276300 for a free, no-obligation chat.

Value Of The Estate

Whether the deceased has left a will or not, from now on the probate process is fairly similar in both scenarios. You will need to obtain date of death valuations in respect of the deceased’s assets as well as full details of all liabilities and debts that the deceased held.

Inland Revenue

If it is necessary to obtain a grant of representation to the deceased’s estate (a Grant of Probate if there is a will, or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is no will) then you will need to submit to the Inland Revenue (HMRC) a tax form providing details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities and the net value of the deceased’s estate.

Generally, if there is no Inheritance tax to pay on the deceased’s estate (usually if the value of the deceased’s estate is under £325,000) then HMRC (Inland Revenue) will require an Inheritance Tax return to be submitted through the IHT205 form.

Generally, if there is Inheritance tax to pay on the deceased’s estate (usually if the net value of the deceased’s estate is over £325,000 for a single person or £650,000 for the widow, widower or surviving civil partner of the deceased) then HMRC will require a more detailed tax form called an IHT400 with accompanying schedules.  If there is the possibility of having to pay inheritance tax on the deceases estate and given that the IHT400 form is longer than the IHT205 and requires more detail, we would strongly recommend that legal advice is sought if an IHT400 form is needed.

We at Seatons will happily help you with the probate process. Please call us on 01536 276300 for a free, no-obligation chat.

Statement/ Application form

The probate process requires you to either sign a statement or complete an application form. You will need to confirm that the information you have provided is true best to your knowledge.

Tax payment

Once the statement is signed /application from is completed , if there is an IHT400, then any Inheritance Tax must be paid directly to HMRC. Once a tax receipt has been issued, it is sent with the relevant documents listed above to the Probate Court.


A few weeks later the Probate Court will issue a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).

Once the Grant has been issued, the executor or administrator becomes the Personal Representative of the deceased (PR). The PR can then arrange for the deceased’s assets to be collected in, apply to close any bank accounts, claim pensions, life insurance policies, enter into a contract to sell property and basically act as the deceased would have done themselves.

Executor's Account

Sometimes an executor or administrator may wish to open an Executor’s Account at a bank of their choice. This will enable the executor or administrator to have a separate account to pay in any monies received, make all necessary payments to liabilities as required under the probate process and eventually distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. If you have instructed solicitors there is no need to open an executors account as the solicitor will deal with this for you.

Estate Accounts

Once all monies are collected in and debts paid in full, the Personal Representative will be required to produce detailed Estate Accounts providing a breakdown of all of the deceased’s assets that have been collected in and of all the liabilities and debts of the estate that have been paid. The PR must then provide details of how the estate is to be distributed between each beneficiary. Once all the payments have been made to the beneficiaries, the executor or administrator should be left with a nil balance in the executor’s accounts.

In making payments to the beneficiaries the probate process differs depending on whether there is a Will. If there is a Will, then payment or distribution is made as detailed and provided for in the deceased’s Will.

If there is no Will then payment or distribution is made to the beneficiaries according to the Intestacy Rules.

In both cases, the Personal Representative of the Estate will be entrusted with significant responsibilities during the Probate process and will be held personally responsible for any errors that are made. For this reason, many choose to instruct specialist Probate Solicitors,(such as ourselves) gaining the peace of mind that the matter is being dealt with by experienced professionals.

The above is a brief summary detailing the main probate process and is intended as a guide only. For more information or help with the probate process then please telephone us on 01536 276300 for a free, no-obligation chat or email for more information and quote “probate process”.

Small Estates

If the overall value of the deceased’s estate is only a few thousand of pounds then, you might not need to apply for a Grant of Probate and you should be able to obtain the release of the assets without too much difficulty. Small estates such as these can usually be transferred without having to obtain a grant of probate from the court.

If you are dealing with a bank or building society they will typically require you to provide evidence of the death, a copy of the Will (if applicable), and complete and sign a Closure form or Statutory Declaration.

Although the Administration of Estates (Small Payments) Act 1965 sets out this threshold at £5,000, almost every bank, building society and financial institution will set their own limit to determine the point at which they will voluntarily release assets without a Grant of Probate needing to be produced.

Many high street banks and lenders will release assets as long as they do not exceed £15,000, but this can vary and so it is important to check this with the relevant financial institution first.

Jointly Held Assets

Another situation in which a Grant of Probate will not be required is if the deceased held all their assets jointly with another person. In this case, at the death of one of the joint owners, the assets will pass on to the surviving owner automatically, irrespective of the deceased’s Will or any Intestacy Rules (if there is no Will). This is known as the rule of ‘survivorship’.

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Adrian Chambers - Seatons Solicitors

Probate & Estate Specialists

I’m Adrian Chambers and I specialise in Probate and Estate matters. We at Seatons are known as the friendly professionals, we aim to provide clients with an outstanding legal service.

We will help and support you and most importantly we work hard for you.

If you need help in obtaining probate and/or administering a loved one’s estate, please click here for further information.

Please contact me for a free, no obligation chat on 01536 276300 or contact me online.

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