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DIY probate - the trials and tribulations

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Can I do probate myself?

Many people are becoming much more tech savvy and are looking to save money where they can.  This is completely understandable in the current climate and more and more people are looking at dealing with the estate of someone who has passed away as a good place to make a saving. 

Online probate applications are a new thing for us solicitors and has meant that we have had to set up a MyHMCTS payment account and user account. This application process has streamlined the process and enables us to obtain grants much more quickly than we did previously with the paper applications we made. 

For members of the general public you must still make these paper applications using a PA1 form.  The first thing is knowing who should apply and why? If there is a Will then the Will is clear on who should be applying for the Grant of Probate. 

In the absence of a Will then you need to look for the person entitled to take out the Grant of Letters of Administration whether this is the spouse the children or the parents of the person who has passed away. There are lots of complicating factors in ascertaining who should apply like if the person is divorced and has left children but has not remarried.  It is the children who are entitled to the estate but if they are under the age of 18 then they cannot take out the grant and will need their other parent and a nominated co-administrator to do so on their behalf.   

If this is not enough to put you off then the inheritance tax status of the estate is also another complicating factor. If the estate is a taxable estate then there is a need to complete an IHT400. This is a full HM Revenue and Customs return. If one of these returns are required then you need to send this directly to HMRC and pay any outstanding tax on the estate. They will then return the probate summary to you duly stamped to enable you to apply for the Grant. 

If the estate is not taxable then an IHT205 is required which makes enquiries about pensions, trusts and other relevant investment choices made during the lifetime of the person who has passed away. Whilst this return is much simpler it can still be difficult to understand and if you were to ask an accountant to complete the return for you the costs are usually quite high as they need to investigate all the assets and liabilities of the person who has passed away prior to their death and make enquiries with their life assurance and pension companies. 

At Stephensons we are able to obtain the Grant to the Estate for you for a fixed fee meaning that the application can be done online much quicker and the return for HMRC completed at the same time.  We can also deal with paying any necessary inheritance tax and advise you on how best to administer the estate thereafter. If you would like to discuss how we can assist you, please call us on 0161 696 6238 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of our Wills and probate team will contact you to discuss your requirements.