What is probate?

What is probate?  ‘Probate’ is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person’s affairs (called ‘administering the estate’).   By having grant of probate this gives you legal right to deal with the persons property, money and belongings.

First thing to do is find a will if one exists

Anything that belongs to the deceased i.e. money, property or belongings is called their estate.  By finding the will this will specify how the person would like their estate divided.

If there is no will

If you cant find a will or if the will is invalid then there are laws that state how the estate should be distributed.

The spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate if it’s worth:

  • Less than £250,000 – if there are surviving children, grandchildren, etc, or
  • Less than £450,000 – if there are surviving parents, brothers or sisters

Over these limits, the estate could be distributed between the spouse and the rest of the family.

Unmarried or divorced partners normally won’t inherit anything under the intestacy rules.

 When do I need to apply for probate?

Probate is almost always needed when the deceased’s estate includes property or land held in their own name or jointly as a ‘tenant in common.

A solicitor can normally assist you in apply for probate but you can also do this yourself.

The following steps will need to be followed to complete the process:

  • Check if there’s a will – this normally states who sorts out the estate. If there’s no will the next of kin can apply.
  • Apply to get a “grant of probate”’ – this gives you the legal right to access things like the person’s bank account.
  • Pay any Inheritance Tax that is due.
  • Collect the estate’s assets, i.e. money from the sale of the person’s property.
  • Pay any debts, i.e. unpaid utilities bills.
  • Distribute the estate – this means giving any property, money or possessions to the people entitled to it (‘beneficiaries’).


If your question – “What is Probate?” is still confusing, here is 2 links which may be useful.