If you’re the executor of an estate in England and Wales, you can now apply online for probate using a new digital service launched by HM Courts and Tribunal Services. But how does this service work and who can use it?
At first the service will only be available to personal applications from executors who are acting alone and have a copy of the original will. If the will has been updated with a codicil, the executor will need to submit a paper application.
Online services for more complex cases or applications from solicitors will be launched later this year.
- Need help administering an estate? Our simple, affordable Which? Probate service can help you through the process.
How does the digital probate service work?
The online probate service will allow you to submit your details online to obtain a grant of probate. However, it’s not a fully digital service, as you’ll still need to send through physical copies of the paperwork, such as copies of the will and death certificate.
Applying online should still save executors some time. You’ll be able to submit a statement of truth digitally, saving executors a trip to the probate office to swear their oath. You’ll also be able to pay probate fees online, rather than writing a cheque.
What paperwork will I need to submit to get probate online?
As with any probate application, you’ll need to provide the following supporting documents:
- The original copy of the will and two photocopies
- The death certificate
- Completed inheritance tax forms and information
- Any other related documents, for example, a renunciation form if someone has declined to act as executor
To use the online probate service, contact HMRC’s helpline for more details on 0300 123 1072. The helpline is open 9-5, Monday to Friday.
Find out more: Grant of probate – how to put in your application
When do I apply for a grant of probate?
If you’re named as the executor of a will in England and Wales, you’ll need to apply for a grant of probate to establish your authority to administer the estate. This involves submitting an application to the Probate Office.
Before applying, you’ll need to establish the size of the estate and what assets and liabilities are involved. In many cases, this means tallying up any bank or building society accounts, any debts owed by the deceased, and valuing any property.
However, some estates are more complex, involving investment schemes or valuable personal effects.
Find out more: What is probate? – our guide to getting started
Once you’ve assessed the estate, you can submit your application form.
Keep in mind that you’ll also need to submit a form to HMRC to determine whether inheritance tax needs to be paid. If the estate is worth less than £325,000, you’ll need to submit form 205 – for more valuable estates, you’ll need form 400.
For more information about how probate works, watch our video:
How much does it cost to apply for probate?
When you apply for a grant of probate, you’ll need to pay a fee, which is currently £215. If the estate is worth less than £5,000, this fee will be waived. With the new online service, you can pay online as you make your application.
You can also order additional copies of your grant of probate, which you’re likely to need during the course of administering the estate. The fee for additional copies is around 50p, and it’s adviseable to get at least 5 copies.
Find out more: DIY probate – how to administer the estate yourself