Applying for probate
What is probate
Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die.
You should not make any financial plans or put property on the market until you’ve got probate.
This guide and the service are also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).
There are different probate rules in Scotland and probate rules in Northern Ireland.
How to get probate
You need to apply to get probate. Before applying, you must check:
- that probate is needed
- that you’re eligible to apply
- whether there’s Inheritance Tax to pay
Check if probate is needed
Contact the financial organisations the person who died used (for example, their bank and mortgage company) to find out if you’ll need probate to get access to their assets. Every organisation has its own rules.
You may not need probate if the person who died:
- only had savings
- owned shares or money with others - this automatically passes to the surviving owners unless they’ve agreed otherwise
- owned land or property as ‘joint tenants’ with others - this automatically passes to the surviving owners
Check if you can apply for probate
Only certain people can apply for probate. Who can apply depends on whether or not there’s a will.
If there’s a will, executors named in it can apply.
If there’s not a will, the closest living relative can apply.
Value the estate and work out Inheritance Tax
Before applying for probate, you must find out if you need to pay Inheritance Tax.
To do this, you need to estimate the value of the estate of the person who died. Even if there’s no tax to pay, you’ll need the value as part of your probate application.
Apply for probate
You can apply for probate online or by post after you’ve valued the estate.
Get help and advice
If you’ve not applied yet and have a question about applying for probate, contact the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.
Courts and Tribunals Service Centre
Telephone: 0300 303 0648
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Closed on bank holidays
Find out about call charges
Stopping a probate application made by someone else
You can challenge an application for probate (‘enter a caveat’), before it’s granted. For example, if there’s a dispute about who can apply for probate or whether there’s a will.