What happens in Probate Court?

Probate Court, or to give it its formal legal name in England and Wales, the Probate Registry, is part of the Government Probate Service. It’s the court you need to make an application to in order to get a Grant of Representation if a deceased person has left a will naming you as an executor or executors. You also need to apply to the court for Letters of Administration if you are the close relative of someone who has not left a will, if they have failed to name an executor, or if the executor is unable or unwilling to act in that capacity.

Your first contact with the Probate Registry will be via an application you need to fill in. Forms are available online or from your local Probate Registry Office. You may choose to employ a solicitor to fill in the form or you can do it yourself. Obviously, a solicitor will charge fees for doing this work for you. If you decide to fill the form in yourself, there is a Government helpline you can call on 0300 123 1072.

For estates with a value of less than £5,000, there is no cost in applying for probate while estates above that value incur a standard charge of £215. It’s worth noting that for most estates that have no property and an overall value of less than £5,000, you do not need to obtain a Grant of Representation or Letters of Administration. You will be able to deal with the deceased’s affairs with the death certificate issued by the Register Office.

Once you have made your application to the Probate Court, you will be invited for a formal interview. The purpose of the interview is to confirm the details you have reported in the application form. The interview will be held at the office you made your application to and will be conducted by a Commissioner and you can be accompanied by a friend or relative.

You will need to bring two forms of identification with you such as a passport, full driving license or council tax bill. Interviews usually take no more than 15 minutes and you will be asked to swear an oath that all the information in your application form is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.

After your interview, the Grant of Representation or Letters of Administration will be posted to you. Once you have them you can start to undertake all the administrative duties of an executor or administrator such as disposing of property, paying any debts and making sure any beneficiaries of the will receive their inheritance.

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