The process of inheriting the estate of a friend or relative is known as probate in the UK. The grant of probate is typically performed by named executors listed in the will. If the main executor doesn't wish to perform the act of probate, any other named party in the will can apply for the right to administer the will. The estates of individuals who die without leaving a will are typically administered by the closest living blood relative.
Valuating the estate by contacting the banks and financial institutes connected to the deceased is the first step in the probate process. A grant of representation should then be applied for and an Inheritance Tax Form completed. Estates valued at less than £5,000 or that pass to the surviving spouse automatically (i.e. in cases where a joint bank account is held) won’t usually need a grant of representation, but some banks may insist on this document even for lower-valued estates.
The tax form and grant of representation form should be forwarded to your nearest Probate Registry once completed. A copy of the death certificate, the original will and the probate fee should be included with these documents. The process differs somewhat for Scotland and Northern Ireland. Information on these differences can be found in the Resources section.
If any tax is owed on the inherited estate, the grant of representation will not be issued until the owed tax is cleared. Paying a proportion of the tax will, in some cases, be acceptable. The deadline for paying any tax due on the estate is six months from the date of the death of the deceased. The sooner the tax is paid, the quicker any inheritance can be issued.
Completing the probate process typically takes around eight weeks from the date the grant of representation request and Inheritance Tax forms are submitted. The Probate Registry first examines the submitted forms and prepare the papers for an interview with the party or parties due to inherit the estate.
All parties due to inherit parts of the estate are required to swear an oath of entitlement. This usually takes place at a solicitor’s office or at a nearby Probate venue. The Probate Registry will contact you directly to arrange for the oath to be sworn. The grant of representation is then posted to your correspondence address from the Probate registry. Once this document is received and any outstanding tax is paid, you can collect the amount of the estate owed to you.