Applying for probate can be a difficult process. Approximately 70% of all applications for probate are made through a professional firm. When you consider all of the steps involved it is easy to see why.

Appointing a probate service

Anyone employed to handle the application is known as a probate practitioner to their clients. Their charges may vary according to a number of factors. Most of these factors are in relation to the complexity of the case. Variables can include wills that are contested, beneficiaries that cannot be traced, or assets that cannot be found.

There are a myriad of other complications which can arise during the process which is why the majority of applications are handled by a professional. Finding a service that offers a fixed price up front is the best option.

For those who do endeavour to undertake the process themselves they need to have plenty of time and some excellent project management skills to ensure all aspects of the process are administered correctly.

Applying for probate – the first step

There are a number of different stages involved in applying for probate. The first step is acquiring the correct paperwork. In order to complete the process applicants can obtain information and guidance from the Probate Service. The requisite forms can also be obtained via HMRC, the Probate Registry, or the Probate and Inheritance Tax Helpline.

Completing the paperwork

The next step is to complete the first phase of paperwork. The forms must be completed and sent to the Probate Registry. The original will and two copies must be included with the application form. You are also required to include an official copy of the death certificate and the fee. The death certificate and copies must be acquired from the informant (person registering the death). Forms are also required from both HM Courts & Tribunals Service and HMRC.

Within the process there are many details that need to be observed. Problems with the paperwork can result in lengthy delays and additional expenses. There are some fairly specific requirements about the documentation involved. The copies of wills must be in black and white, on A4 size paper, good quality, clear and legible. Any blue ink or faint typing from the original will should be made clear on the copies.

Although the copies do not need to be certified the left hand margins must be left clear so that the grant can be attached. If the original will had to be taken apart in order to make the copies you are required to include a covering letter with the application stating that this has been done and that the will is in its original condition with nothing removed or attached.

Probate interview

Once the forms have been completed the applicant is then required to swear an oath. This can be done either at one of the probate venues, or at the office of any commissioner for oaths. This is normally at a solicitor’s office that is convenient for the applicant to access. The oath itself is a document covering all of the important details of the application. It is prepared by staff in the probate registry.

For the uninitiated, the process of applying for probate may be time consuming and confusing. It can be very beneficial to find a company that will offer a low-cost, fixed-fee service to make the application. This will ensure that all of the minute details are covered and that the application will be processed without delays. Getting a price upfront also ensures that you do not need to worry about any additional costs incurred during the process.

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