Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’.

You’ll get a document that allows you to start dealing with the estate. If the person left a will you’ll get either:

  • a ‘grant of probate’
  • ‘letters of administration with will annexed’ (if the will does not name an executor or the named executor is unable to apply)

If the person did not leave a will, you’ll get ‘letters of administration’.

This guide and the service are also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

The process is different in Scotland and different in Northern Ireland.

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), probate applications are taking up to 8 weeks to process.

When probate is not needed

You may not need probate if the person who died:

  • had jointly owned land, property, shares or money - these will automatically pass to the surviving owners
  • only had savings or premium bonds

Contact each asset holder (for example a bank or mortgage company) to find out if you’ll need probate to get access to their assets. Every organisation has its own rules.