Overview

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

If the person left a will, you’ll get a ‘grant of probate’.

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

You apply for both in the same way.

The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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.

How a probate application works

  1. Check if there’s a will. There’s a different process if there’s no will.

  2. Value the estate and report it to HMRC.

  3. Apply for probate.

  4. Pay any Inheritance Tax that’s due.

  5. Collect the estate’s assets, for example money from the sale of the person’s property.

  6. Pay off any debts, for example unpaid utilities bills.

  7. Keep a record (‘estate accounts’) of how any property, money or possessions will be split.

  8. Pass the estate (‘distribute the assets’) on to the people named in the will (‘beneficiaries’).

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

  3. Step 3 Tell government about the death

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If Tell Us Once is not available in your area tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. and Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK

    If your right to live in the UK depends on your relationship with someone who died you might need to apply for a new visa.

    Check the rules if:

    1. Contact UKVI to check the rules for other visas
  7. Step 5 Deal with their estate

    You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

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