HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

IHTM05024 - Is an account required? - initial steps following a death (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

A prospective personal representative (IHTM05012) (PR) who wants to obtain a grant (IHTM05001) can either:

  • appoint a solicitor or other agent to act on their behalf and prepare the necessary paperwork, or
  • take out the grant themselves

If they decide to take out the grant themselves their first source of information is usually the Court Service booklet, ‘How to obtain probate’, that is available from undertakers and advice centres as well as HM Court Service. The booklet has brief information on Inheritance Tax. Information is also available at GOV.UK.

For deaths on or after 1 January 2022, the PR will only need to complete the probate application forms PA1P in England and Wales, or NIPF1/NIPF2 in Northern Ireland. They may also now be able to apply for probate online - details of how to do so can be found through the link in the previous paragraph.

The forms include declarations that the estate is an excepted estate. Guidance is available to help PRs confirm that the estate meets the conditions to be an excepted estate on both GOV.UK and the Inheritance Tax Manual begnning at IHTM06001. If the estate does not meet the conditions the PR must complete an IHT400 (IHTM10021) instead.

For deaths before 1 January 2022, the PR will also need to complete a form IHT205 Return of Estate information, as well as the probate application forms. IHT206 notes are available on how to complete form IHT205. They may also be able to apply for probate and report the estate to HMRC online at GOV.UK.

Form IHT205 will guide the PR through the conditions (IHTM06012) for excepted estates (IHTM05021) by asking a series of questions. If the answer to certain questions is ‘yes’ the PR must complete an IHT400 (IHTM10021) instead. They can obtain a pack of forms for personal applicants by:

  • downloading the forms from the GOV.UK website
  • using the telephone orderline (0300 123 1072), or
  • by writing to us.

If a form IHT400 is not required, the PR will obtain an excepted estate grant (IHTM05026) by completing the probate application forms and, if necessary, form IHT205 and sending these to the Probate Registry. The relevant information will then be sent to HMRC and we will use this to monitor the operation of the process.