Probate – dealing with a deceased person’s affairs

‘Probate’ is the name generally given to the process of administering someone’s estate when they die. When someone dies owning significant assets, a formal ‘grant’ must be obtained from a court to enable their estate to be collected in and divided between their beneficiaries.

‘Probate’ describes both the Grant of Probate and the process involved in obtaining it. It includes:

  • making an inheritance tax return to HMRC and paying the tax due
  • finalising income tax affairs and pensions
  • collecting in the estate from banks, building societies and selling assets
  • paying money due to beneficiaries
  • making any gifts of items to beneficiaries
  • preparing accounts for the estate

There are actually two types of grant: probate and letters of administration.

Probate is granted when the deceased left a valid will, and is granted in favour of one or all of the executors named in that will.

Letters of administration are granted where the deceased did not leave a will, but most people still refer to it as ‘probate’ because, for all practical purposes, the two types of grant are identical. There are some differences in the process before the grant is issued.

See the FAQs page for more help.

Why use a professional firm?

The probate process can be complex and time consuming. Tax returns must be made to HMRC on the basis of information that is collated from the holders of all the deceased’s assets and liabilities, including bank accounts, investments, pensions and all other assets. Once probate has been obtained the assets must be collected in and the liabilities of the estate must be paid before the estate is distributed in accordance with the terms of the will or the statutory order for payment where there is no will. As an executor or next of kin who applies for a grant you are personally liable for any mistakes or incorrect distributions.

Probate relies on specialist legal and tax knowledge and a number of complications can arise.


Grant only: fixed fee £1,500 + VAT

Full probate including obtaining grant, collecting and distributing assets: below Inheritance Tax threshold – fixed fee TBC + VAT; above IHT at hourly rate of £200ph + VAT

In addition, disbursements will be payable. Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.

These will include:

  • Probate court fee – £155.
  • Bankruptcy-only Land Charges Department searches – £2 per beneficiary.
  • Post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors – £69.50 + VAT.
  • Post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims – estimated cost £30.00 – £80.00 + VAT

Disbursements = approximately £304.50 in total (+ VAT where applicable).

What we will do for you

As part of our fixed fee we will:

  • Provide you with a dedicated and experienced probate solicitor to work on your matter (this will be Harvey Harding, Charlotte Barnes or Greg Nettleship)
  • Identify the legally appointed executors or administrators and beneficiaries
  • Accurately identify the type of Probate application you will require
  • Obtain the relevant documents required to make the application
  • Complete the Probate Application and the relevant HMRC forms
  • Draft a legal oath for you to swear
  • Make the application to the Probate Court on your behalf
  • Obtain the Probate and securely send two copies to you
  • Collect and distribute all assets in the estate

On average, this takes between 4 – 12 months. Typically, obtaining the grant of probate takes 6 – 12 weeks. Collecting assets then follows, which can take between 6 – 12 months. We can then distribute the assets, which normally takes 6 – 12 weeks. Every case is different and it may be that timescales are shorter or longer than this.

We offer a tailor-made service to help you through the process. Contact us on the form on the right or phone us on 03300 562181

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