Applying for probate

Probate (or 'confirmation' if you live in Scotland) is a general term used to describe the process you may need to go through to apply for the legal right to deal with an estate. The process involves applying to the Probate Registry, who formally confirm if a will is valid or, if there is no will, check that you are legally allowed to deal with the deceased's estate. Once they are satisfied, they'll issue a legal document called the grant of probate, or the grant of letters of administration (if there wasn't a will). This document formally names the person(s) responsible for dealing with the estate. In Scotland, both documents are known as 'confirmation'.

Once the personal representative has received probate, they will need to show the legal document to banks, building societies and other organisations to prove that they have authority to deal with any assets the person who passed away owned.

Is probate required?

Probate is not required where all the deceased's assets are held jointly with another person and where they pass automatically to the joint owner.

Where the value of the deceased's assets held in their sole name is greater than £5,000, probate may be required. Most financial institutions have individual discretionary limits for releasing assets without seeing the legal document.

At M&S Bank, we feel it's important that we support you as an individual. For this reason, every case will be reviewed by one of our Bereavement Support team and decisions will not be made solely on the value of the estate.

Please be aware – if the deceased owned a property in their sole name probate will always be required before it can be sold or transferred.

How to apply for probate

To apply for probate yourself, you need to complete some application forms and send them to your local Probate Registry office. You can download these from gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/applying-for-a-grant-of-representation

In Scotland, you apply to the Sheriff Court instead of a Probate Registry office. Visit gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/overview for more information, or contact a solicitor.

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