A beginner’s guide to probate in the UK

June 7, 2023

When someone dies, it can feel incredibly overwhelming to start sorting everything out. And you might be hearing new terms like “probate” and “estate administration” thrown around. To make things a little easier, we’ll go through:

  • What probate is
  • If you need it
  • How long it takes
  • How Trustestate can help

Probate is the legal process of sorting the estate of someone who’s died, whether they left a will or not

By estate we mean all their property, money and possessions. Sometimes probate is referred to as Grant of Probate, which is the legal document you’ll get if the person left a will. If they didn’t leave a will, you’ll get a Grant of Letters of Administration instead.

The legal process of probate includes settling any outstanding debts, selling assets and sharing out what’s left to the beneficiaries, if there’s a will. Or if there’s no will, everything’s settled according to the rules of intestacy instead.

If you need probate depends on the bank or financial organisation’s threshold

You’ll probably need probate if the person who died:

  • owned property or assets in their sole name or as ‘tenants in common’

and

  • the value exceeds the threshold set by the bank or financial institution involved.

The probate threshold is set by individual banks, not the government. This can be anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000 – each organisation has their own rules on how much money they can release before seeing a Grant of Probate.

You may not need probate if the person who died:

  • has an estate valued at less than £5,000
  • only had savings
  • owned shares or money with others - this passes to the surviving owners (unless they’ve agreed otherwise)
  • owned land or property as ‘joint tenants’ with others - this passes to the surviving owners

It’s best to check with the relevant bank or financial organisation to be sure.

The whole process of sorting out the estate usually takes 6 to 12 months, but can take longer

To get the Grant of Probate document, the probate registry charges £273 to apply and it usually takes 16 weeks to be granted. It can take longer if you need to give more information.

Once you’ve got this, the named executor or administrator can start sorting the estate (often known as estate administration).

This includes paying outstanding debts, selling any property and sharing the remaining assets between beneficiaries. How long this takes depends on how complex the estate is and if any problems arise in the process.

‍Sorting the estate can be challenging but Trustestate can help

Probate and estate administration can be complicated, but it’s important to make sure it’s done correctly and follows the wishes of the person who’s died. Our platform lets you manage the whole probate and estate administration process online, from start to finish.

What we offer

Get a fixed quote upfront and claim the money back, or pay directly from, the estate. It’s cheaper and faster than a solicitor, so you can sort the estate efficiently and cost-effectively.

Grant of probate

We apply for you, using information you provide

From

£500*

Pay now, get the money back from the estate later

Book a free call

Complete probate

We apply for probate and sort the entire estate for you

From

£1,500*

No upfront fees, pay directly from the estate

Book a free call

*Extras:
HM Courts and Tribunals Service probate fee for estates over £5,000 - +£273.00
Additional grant of probate copies - +£1.50
Third-party services, such as an asset and liability search - Optional