Probate is the legal right to deal with someones property, money and possessions (their estate) when they die.
You should not make any financial plans or put property on the market until youve got probate.
There are different probate rules in Scotland and probate rules in Northern Ireland.
How to get probate
You need to apply to get probate. Before applying, you must check that its needed and that youre eligible to apply. You also need to estimate and report the estates value to find out if theres Inheritance Tax to pay.
Check if probate is needed
Contact the financial organisations the person who died used (for example, their bank and mortgage company) to find out if youll need probate to get access to their assets. Every organisation has its own rules.
You may not need probate if the person who died:
- only had savings
- owned shares or money with others - this automatically passes to the surviving owners unless theyve agreed otherwise
- owned land or property as joint tenants with others - this automatically passes to the surviving owners
Check if you can apply for probate
Only certain people can apply for probate. Who can apply depends on whether or not theres a will.
If theres a will, executors named in it can apply.
If theres not a will, the closest living relative can apply.
Value the estate and work out Inheritance Tax
Before applying for probate, estimate the value of the estate of the person who died and find out if you need to pay Inheritance Tax.
When you can apply for probate depends on whether or not theres Inheritance Tax to pay.
Apply for probate
You can apply for probate online or by post after youve valued the estate.
Get help and advice
If youve not applied yet and have a question about applying for probate, contact the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre.
You can challenge an application for probate (enter a caveat), before its granted. For example, if theres a dispute about who can apply for probate or whether theres a will.