Frequently Asked Questions - Probate Records (2022)

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have before using our service. If you have a specific question which is not answered below or from the information given on our website, please contact us.

Important note: we are not qualified to advise on legal matters or anything that might be construed as being a legal matter.

We are an independent company and have no association with HMCTS (HM Courts and Tribunals Service) or the online search facility made available via gov.uk

Why use probaterecords.co.uk?

Postal applications can be made to the Probate Service but generally take 6-8 weeks to be processed. We offer an expedited service by making direct applications. All documents are checked by us for errors and we ensure the correct seal/certification has been added prior to shipping. This is an invaluable service, especially for clients who reside overseas. Put simply, we offer a time saving and value added service.

Do you offer a faster service?

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We are not privileged to any priority service, but do our utmost to give an expedited service by making a direct application. If your requirement is extremely urgent, we advise that you contact the issuing district probate registry for advice. This normally involves visiting the registry in person by appointment and showing proof of urgency. Our service guarantee, is offered for this purpose. In the event a document order is placed with us and is then subsequently obtained prior to our day of shipping, a full and immediate refund is available upon request. This forms part of our terms of service.

Are documents original?

When probate is initially granted, copies of the grant of probate (bearing the official court seal) are supplied to the deceased personal representative. The original is thereafter kept securely on file by the government probate service. All subsequent copies are issued from the original held on file, with the court seal being added as proof that the document is genuine. The same applies to any Will associated with the probate. You may be asked to supply an original copy, but this simply means an official court sealed copy i.e not a photocopy. The copies we obtain on your behalf are issued directly from the government probate service (HMCTS) and are 100% genuine and suitable for any legal or official purpose.

Can you help with documents required for use overseas?

Our service is most appropriate for those residing overseas or for shipping to an overseas address. For use overseas, the document is normally required to be court sealed and certified with or without the addition of an Apostille/Legalisation certificate (we advise you check with the overseas authority). Our standard delivery options include airmail at no additional charge, however we strongly advise that a tracked option is chosen. Worldwide courier delivery can be arranged and should be requested via email after your order has been placed. This enables us to give a fixed price quote and delivery timescale. Additional courier fees require pre-payment via our PayPal invoice (a PayPal account is not required for this purpose). Estimated worldwide courier fees are between 25-45 GBP.

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Why does your service only cover England & Wales

We are a small team with a network of agents. Our service often involves making visits in person and for this reason we cover a restricted area. Other areas of the United Kingdom have their own government probate departments and should be contacted direct. An internet search should provide the relevant contact information.

In England and Wales probate is normally the term used to describe the legal process involved in dealing with the assets of a person who has died. An application for probate is made to a district probate registry and a copy of the will is submitted with the application unless the deceased died intestate. When probate has been granted a legal document called a grant of representation is issued (often referred to as a grant of probate, certificate of probate or letters of administration). This document acts as proof that the deceased’s personal representative (executor/next of kin etc.) has the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.

Is probate always required?

Probate is normally required if the deceased held assets valued at over £5000 in their sole name. Probate may not be required if assets were held jointly i.e with a surviving spouse or if assets were liquidated prior to death. We are not qualified to advise on if and when probate may be required as we have no knowledge of the deceased’s circumstances at the time of death.

Why can’t I find a record using the online probate search facility made available by gov.uk?

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As above; probate may not have been required. In this instance no public record relating to the administration of the deceased’s estate is made available as a public record. Probate may be pending; there is no time limit on how long a deceased’s personal representative may take to apply for probate, this could be weeks or even years.

Can a will be supplied prior to death or prior to probate having been granted?

A will is submitted as part of a probate application and then held on file indefinitely. It is only made available as a public record after probate has been granted.

What research do you offer in relation to probate records and wills?

If the deceased’s exact name and date of death is known we advise that you first make a search via the online government probate search facility. If no entry is listed, this may be because probate has not been granted. We advise you make a regular search.

Probate research is an area in which we excel. This is often required when for example a date of death is unknown. This is a vital piece of information and without it, nearly impossible to identify a matching probate entry. This is where our research capabilities come into play. We use the deceased’s last known address or area to find a matching entry and have an excellent success rate in identifying hard to find probate records. Our ‘reading' copy service should be used for this purpose. Note: in the event that no probate record is available, we retain a fee of 10.00 GBP for this service.

Someone has recently passed away. I need to know if they left a will and where it is located.

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This is not part of our service. We can only help with probated wills. Other services are available for this purpose; try an internet search under the term “will finder”

What is a court sealed copy?

A court sealed grant of probate includes the embossed seal of the court (replaced by a hologram seal after March 2019) and acts as proof that the document is genuine. It is recognised throughout the United Kingdom. Note: the hologram seal applies to probate grants only, the will is embossed with the court seal.

What is a certified copy?

As above but also includes certification by the registry that the document is a true copy of the original. This should only be a requirement for use overseas.

What is an apostille/legalisation certificate?

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An apostille/legalisation certificate is issued by the government Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. For probate documents, it confirms to overseas authorities that the embossed seal is genuine. The certificate is glued to the document and then embossed with FCDO seal.

FAQs

What does a probate record tell you? ›

A probate record is created by the local court upon an individual's death. The records deal with the distribution of the estate and care of dependents. Probate took place regardless of a will (testate) or no will (intestate).

Is there a public record of probate? ›

If Probate is needed to administer your Estate after you die, then your Will becomes a public document and anyone can apply for a copy. It's important to bear this in mind when you write your Will, and avoid including any information that you wish to keep private.

Does probate check bank statements? ›

In order to prepare your probate application and tax forms, you'll need to track down some key details about the estate. This includes things like debts, tax owed, gifts made in the last 7 years, shareholdings, investments, life insurance, pensions, and the balance in any bank accounts.

How are things valued for probate? ›

Valuing parts of the estate for probate

Assets need to be valued at their open market value. This is the price the asset might reasonably fetch if it was sold on the open market at the time of the death. This represents the realistic selling price of an asset, not an insurance value or replacement value.

How long after probate is money distributed? ›

If you need to close a bank account of someone who has died, and probate is required to do so, then the bank won't release the money until they have the grant of probate. Once the bank has all the necessary documents, typically, they will release the funds within two weeks.

What are the stages of probate process? ›

The 8 Key Stages of Probate
  • Assessing the value of the Estate. ...
  • Assessing Inheritance Tax (IHT) Liability. ...
  • Applying for Probate. ...
  • Informing interested parties. ...
  • Gathering assets of the Estate. ...
  • Paying any debts owed by the Estate.
6 Jul 2021

What assets do you have to declare for probate? ›

Assets Where Probate Is Required
  • Assets Held in the Deceased's Sole Name. The most common example of this is the deceased's property. ...
  • Investment Products. This could be an investment portfolio consisting of different assets. ...
  • Life Insurance Policies. ...
  • Foreign Assets. ...
  • Business Assets.
6 Jun 2018

How do you get around probate? ›

The Top Three Ways to Avoid Probate
  1. Write a Living Trust. The most straightforward way to avoid probate is simply to create a living trust. ...
  2. Name Beneficiaries on Your Retirement and Bank Accounts. ...
  3. Hold Property Jointly.
2 May 2022

Where can I find free probate records online? ›

You would go to the county government's website and search by name of the deceased. You may also be able to search by the court docket or attorney. You can also use the case number to search probate cases if you have it.

Can anyone view a grant of probate? ›

The government maintains a public record of information about issued grants of probate. You can access that via a dedicated website, whereby you can enter information about the deceased person, which will allow you to search for any issued grants of representation.

Can anyone see will after probate? ›

In general, a will is a private document unless and until a grant of probate is issued. Once a grant of probate has been issued, a will becomes a public document and anyone can apply to have a copy.

What information are beneficiaries entitled to? ›

A beneficiary is entitled to be told if they are named in a person's will. They are also entitled to be told what, if any, property/possessions have been left to them, and the full amount of inheritance they will receive.

Why do you have to wait 6 months after probate? ›

Inheritance Claims

As this type of inheritance act claim must be made within six months of probate being granted, solicitors often hold onto money owned by the estate until this time-period has elapsed. This ensures the estate has the assets required should an inheritance act arise.

Can an administrator of an estate take everything? ›

To sum up, the administrator of an estate cannot take everything. The administrator should place all estate funds into an estate account. The administrator can only use estate funds to pay the legitimate expenses of the estate, taxes and legal fees.

Do you have to value clothes for probate? ›

In short, yes. Household items do have to go through the probate process as they are considered probate assets with no explicit or individual title. These assets (items like furniture, clothing, collections, artwork, jewelry, etc.) typically have little monetary value but can have serious sentimental value.

Can anything be sold before probate? ›

Technically the answer to 'can you sell a house before probate' is yes, yes you can. Although you will need probate to exchange and complete, nothing is stopping you from listing your house on the market and accepting any offers, if you get them, before being given the Grant of Probate.

Do I have to get jewellery valued for probate? ›

Probate Jewellery Valuation Or Confirmation Of Will

When valuing the chattels of an estate for probate an executor must include any jewellery that the deceased owned or had an interest in. It is one of the assets that HMRC will want valued and included for Inheritance Tax calculations.

How long is Grant of probate taking at the moment 2022? ›

Generally speaking, it should take between four weeks and three months to apply for a grant of probate. The amount of time it might take for you depends on a number of factors, including: Whether there is an inventory present within the will. The size and intricacy of the estate.

Can an executor pay beneficiaries before probate? ›

It is up to the executor's discretion as to whether they distribute any money before probate. However, an executor should consider how a beneficiary receiving their inheritance early could affect the rest of the estate administration.

What happens after probate goes through? ›

After probate is granted

The process of dealing with an estate can include: closing down bank accounts, cashing in pension and insurance lump sums and selling or transferring property.

How long does probate normally take to go through? ›

Typically, after death, the process will take between 6 months to a year, with 9 months being the average time for probate to complete. Probate timescales will depend on the complexity and size of the estate. If there is a Will in place and the estate is relatively straightforward it can be done within 6 months.

How long is probate granted? ›

On average it takes between three and six months to get the necessary paperwork from the Probate Registry. For more information, see How Long Does Grant of Probate Take. Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, it's the executor's job to continue with the administration of the estate.

Can you speed up the probate process? ›

Unfortunately there is no easy way of fast tracking probate. There is no special process that is available to do it or extra fee that you can pay to get it done faster than normal. Essentially there are three main stages and at various times you may be reliant on what others are doing which may cause delays.

Are personal belongings part of an estate? ›

Most people leave behind some possessions when they die, which might include money, property and personal belongings, and together these things are called their 'estate'. These are usually passed on to family, friends and people or organisations such as charities that your friend or relative has specified.

Is a house included in probate? ›

You usually need probate or letters of administration to deal with an estate if it includes property such as a flat or a house.

What an executor Cannot do? ›

An executor must be impartial. Neither he/she, nor his/her family, friends, may benefit unfairly (for example from the sale of an asset). He/She must carry out the instructions in the will, as well as reasonable instructions of the heirs. Quarrels with heirs should not interfere with his or her duties.

Can you remove items from a house before probate? ›

If the deceased person's estate is under this value, it is typically okay to commence house clearance before probate. Even so, it is recommended that you keep records of anything that is sold. This will cover you in case there are any questions later in the process from HMRC.

What can slow down probate? ›

Factors that can delay Probate
  • Locating the Will. ...
  • Using a copy of the Will. ...
  • Validity of the Will. ...
  • No executor named in the Will. ...
  • Contesting/questioning of the legitimacy of the Will. ...
  • Unexpected Executors. ...
  • Solicitor named as executor. ...
  • Death of executor before probate.
5 Jan 2022

Can you clear property before probate? ›

That answer is simple: no. The executor will have to wait until the probate process is over before disposing of assets.

Are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the will? ›

It is common practice (although again, not obligatory) to show a copy of the will to beneficiaries of the residuary estate (i.e. what is left once any debts have been paid and specific gifts have been made) but they are not automatically entitled to see the will, although they do have the right to know who the ...

How do I contact the probate Registry? ›

+44 300 123 1072

You can also find out information in: the official HMRC app.

Can you look at someone's will online? ›

The best way to view the will is to get the probate court file number. The executor can give you this information. You may also be able to access the file number by phone, online, or in person at the courthouse by providing the deceased's name and date of death.

What is the difference between probate and grant of probate? ›

What's the difference between letters of administration and grant of probate? The main difference is that a grant of probate is issued to the executor named in the will, whereas a grant of letters of administration is issued to the next of kin, who is called the administrator.

Who can stop a grant of probate? ›

You can stop a grant of probate being issued by entering a caveat in the estate. There is a small fee for this and the caveat lasts for six months. A caveat can be renewed after this time for a further fee. This time will allow you or your solicitor to investigate your potential claims.

How many copies of grant of probate should I get? ›

Usually, you will need at least three or four copies at hand, and in some cases, it may be helpful to have six sealed copies of the grant of probate to assist in settling the estate.

Who contacts beneficiaries of a will? ›

Helen: If someone has left a will and you are a beneficiary of an estate, you would usually be contacted by the executor, or the solicitor the executor has instructed, to notify you that you are a beneficiary.

Can an executor change a will? ›

As noted in the previous section, an executor cannot change the will. This means that the beneficiaries who are in the will are there to stay; they cannot be removed, no matter how difficult or belligerent they may be with the executor.

How do you find out what is in a will? ›

If a copy of the will can be found, it will usually have the details of the law firm or will drafters who prepared the document – these can be found on the cover page or in the addresses of the witnesses to the will.

Do beneficiaries have access to bank statements? ›

Bank account beneficiaries will not have access to the bank accounts until all bank account owners have died. Bera notes if you pass away, your beneficiary will need to present a death certificate to your financial institution to access your bank account.

Can the executor of a will also be a beneficiary? ›

When making a will, people often ask whether an executor can also be a beneficiary. The answer is yes, it's perfectly normal (and perfectly legal) to name the same person as an executor and a beneficiary in your will.

What are the 3 types of beneficiaries? ›

There are different types of beneficiaries; Irrevocable, Revocable and Contingent.

How long after probate can a property be sold? ›

You won't be able to sell the home until probate has been granted. Although you may put the property on the market, contracts can't be exchanged – so your buyer will need to be prepared to wait. It usually takes six to eight weeks for probate to come through, although it can take longer in more complex cases.

How long after probate is money released? ›

If you need to close a bank account of someone who has died, and probate is required to do so, then the bank won't release the money until they have the grant of probate. Once the bank has all the necessary documents, typically, they will release the funds within two weeks.

What happens if more assets are found after probate? ›

If new assets are found during Probate or after the process has completed, this can impact on the Estate's tax liability. It can also mean that some of the Probate steps that have already been taken will need to be repeated.

What expenses can be deducted from an estate? ›

5 Tax-Deductible Expenses Every Executor Should Know
  • Funeral and Burial Expenses. ...
  • Estate Administration Expenses. ...
  • Outstanding Debts Left by the Deceased. ...
  • Charitable Donations Made After Death. ...
  • Death Tax Deductions: State Inheritance Tax and Estate Taxes.
10 Oct 2017

Can you pay for funeral from deceased bank account? ›

If the account is held only in the deceased's name, the bank will stop all direct debit payments and standing orders. Normally, they will send a record to the executor of what payments have stopped. However, funds held in the deceased's current account or savings account may be used to pay for: Funeral costs.

Can an executor of a will sell property without all beneficiaries approving? ›

Can An Executor Sell Estate Property Without Getting Approval From All Beneficiaries? The executor can sell property without getting all of the beneficiaries to approve. However, notice will be sent to all the beneficiaries so that they know of the sale but they don't have to approve of the sale.

Who can see a grant of probate? ›

You can only see the grant in the estate and the will if the deceased left one.

How long should probate documents be kept? ›

You must keep all paperwork associated with the estate, including the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration for a minimum period of 12 years. When should I seek legal help if I need advice or assistance?

What does probate Registry mean? ›

The Probate Registry is part of HM Courts and Tribunal Service. It issues legal authority to those dealing with the winding-up of an estate after a death.

What is a probate record UK? ›

Find a probate record, also known as a 'grant of representation', for someone who died after 1857. Probate gives someone the legal right to deal with a deceased person's property, money and possessions (their 'estate'). A new probate record will be online approximately 14 days after probate has been issued.

What is the difference between probate and Grant of probate? ›

What's the difference between letters of administration and grant of probate? The main difference is that a grant of probate is issued to the executor named in the will, whereas a grant of letters of administration is issued to the next of kin, who is called the administrator.

What can hold up grant of probate? ›

Factors that can delay Probate
  • Locating the Will. ...
  • Using a copy of the Will. ...
  • Validity of the Will. ...
  • No executor named in the Will. ...
  • Contesting/questioning of the legitimacy of the Will. ...
  • Unexpected Executors. ...
  • Solicitor named as executor. ...
  • Death of executor before probate.
5 Jan 2022

Does a grant of probate supersede a will? ›

The difference is that a will allows the testator (the person writing the will) to record their wishes, whereas probate enables the personal representatives to action the testator's wishes. The presence or absence of a will doesn't make a difference to whether or not probate is needed.

What is the longest a probate can last? ›

One of the most common questions associated with settling a deceased person's estate is “How long does it take to probate a will?” The answer depends on a variety of factors, but in general, probate could take anywhere from a few months to more than a year (or even years).

What is the longest time probate can take? ›

Typically, after death, the process will take between 6 months to a year, with 9 months being the average time for probate to complete. Probate timescales will depend on the complexity and size of the estate. If there is a Will in place and the estate is relatively straightforward it can be done within 6 months.

Who keeps the original will after probate? ›

An original will stored by you is the property of the client and after the client's death, it is the property of the estate. You should store the original will until after the death of the client, or until you are able to return the original to the client.

How do I contact the probate Registry? ›

+44 300 123 1072

You can also find out information in: the official HMRC app.

How long is probate registry taking? ›

On average it takes between three and six months to get the necessary paperwork from the Probate Registry. For more information, see How Long Does Grant of Probate Take. Once the Grant of Probate has been issued, it's the executor's job to continue with the administration of the estate.

Is probate required if there is a property? ›

Probate is generally required when a person's estate includes property or is made up of other significant assets. Probate may also be required when an estate is valued over a certain amount. The value at which probate is required will vary between banks and financial institutions.

How do I get a copy of someone's probate? ›

Ordering in-person

You can get a copy of a grant of probate in-person from your local district probate registry. This is the best option if you: Are interested in obtaining a sealed copy of the grant of probate, or a sealed and certified copy.

Are probate records public in UK? ›

After probate is granted

Once a grant of probate has been issued, a will becomes a public document and anyone can apply to have a copy. The Gov.UK website provides information about searching for probate records, either online or by post.

How long keep probate Records UK? ›

You must keep certain records after you value an estate. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) can ask to see your records up to 20 years after Inheritance Tax is paid.

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