How to apply for probate

Applications made through a solicitor, notary or barrister

Around 70% of applications are made through a solicitor, notary or barrister. The charges made by a probate practitioner (either a solicitor, notary or barrister) to their clients vary according to a number of factors (including the complexity of the case), so it is not possible to give an indication of typical, or average, costs.

The fee payable to the Probate Service is £45, but where the value of the estate is £5,000 or less, no charge is made by the Probate Service .

For solicitor applications see:

The Non-Contentious Probate Fees (Amendment) Order 2011

Processing applications

There are five main stages involved in every personal application:
  • The applicant can obtain information, guidance and Probate Service and HMRC forms from this site or from the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline (telephone: 0845 3020900)
  • The applicant completes the forms and sends them to the Probate Registry together with the original will (if there is one) and two copies, an official copy of the death certificate and the fee. Forms are required from both HM Courts & Tribunals Service and HMRC
  • The copies of wills must be A4 size black and white, good quality, clear and legible.  Please ensure that any faint typing or blue ink on the original will is clear on the copies
  • The copies should be made from the original will
  • The copies should not be stapled and do not need to be certified by a solicitor
  • Please leave the top and left hand margins of the copies clear so that the grant can be attached
  • If it is necessary to take the will apart in order to copy it please enclose a covering letter with the application informing the registry that this was done and that the will has been restored to the same condition that it was before it was copied and nothing has been further attached or detached
  • Staff at the Probate Registry examine the application and will prepare an oath that the applicant(s) to swear.
  • Options for swearing the oath

As part of the application process you will need to swear an oath to confirm the information you have given in the application form is true to your best knowledge and belief, and to promise to deal with the estate as the law requires. The oath, which is a document containing all the important details of the application, will be prepared for you by staff in the probate registry and you can choose to swear it either:

  • At the office of any commissioner for oaths (usually a solicitor’s office) convenient to yourself or
  • By attending at one of the probate venues

At a commissioner for oaths

If you chose to go to a solicitor to swear the oath you may be able to swear your papers closer to your home or place of work than if you attend at a probate venue. The probate office will send the oath to the first named applicant which they must then take to the solicitor of their choice.  All applicants will be required to swear the oath. The commissioner has no involvement either in your application or the administration of the estate; your only contact with him/her will be for the formal swearing of the oath – normally no more than 5 minutes. A charge of £5 for each oath and £2 for each exhibit is made by the commissioner for this service (an exhibit is any document referred to in the oath and usually consists of a will in these circumstances). You will need to contact the solicitor to make appropriate arrangements to swear the oath and you will need to take ID with you. If you are outside England or Wales, different charges may apply and you may wish to check the fee beforehand.

If you choose this option you should write 'solicitor’s office' in the box labelled 'interview venue' on the first page of the form PA1.

At a probate venue

If you attend at a probate venue, there is no additional charge for swearing the oath, and the appointment will be made by probate staff – normally no more than 5 minutes long. Leaflet PA4 provides more information on the locations for swearing the oath if you opt to swear at a probate venue. Most locations other than Probate Registries have limited opening times. You should note that when selecting a venue the probate office will send the oath to the first named applicant and ask you to call the Probate Registry to arrange a time for your appointment. Your appointment will be fixed for the next available date.  If you choose this option you should write your preferred location in the box labelled “interview venue” on the first page of the form PA1.

These options may not be applicable in all cases and it may necessary for you to attend an appointment at the registry.

  • A grant of representation is issued and posted to the applicant once the Probate Registry is satisfied as to the validity of the application

HM Courts & Tribunals Service

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