The role of the probate registry

When someone dies, you may need to contact the Probate Registry. We take a look at the office and the role it plays in estate administration.

The Probate Registry is part of HM Courts and Tribunal Service. It issues legal authority to those dealing with the winding-up of an estate after a death.

If the deceased left a Will, then the executors named in the Will are responsible for applying to the Probate Registry for this authority, referred to as a Grant of Probate.

If the deceased did not leave a Will, then someone close to them will usually apply to the Probate Registry for authority to finalise their affairs, known as a Grant of Letters of Administration. The deceased’s representatives in this case are referred to as administrators.

Applying for a Grant of Probate

If you have been named as an executor in a Will, then you are likely to need a Grant of Probate. Only small estates can be administered without a Grant of Probate, usually those with a net worth of up to £50,000 and no property, although it will depend where the assets are held whether a Grant is needed, as each bank has its own threshold above which they will ask to see a Grant of Probate before closing accounts.

Where probate is needed, the first step is to identify the deceased’s assets and liabilities and value the estate. Once this has been done, you will need to calculate and pay any Inheritance Tax which may be due.

You should then fill in the Probate Registry’s application form and send it to the Probate Registry together with a cheque for their fee, which is £215 for estates valued at over £5,000. This fee is reduced to £155 if the application is made via a probate solicitor. It is a good idea to request extra certified copies of the Grant of Probate as well so that you have enough to send one to each of the banks or other institutions where the deceased had holdings. These are available for £1.50 each.

You should also send the original Will and original death certificate.

The Probate Registry may take around six months to issue the Grant of Probate.

Applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration

Where the deceased did not leave a Will, their estate will pass to their spouse and/or close family members in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. It is usually the case that someone entitled to inherit under the Rules will make the application to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

The process is similar to a probate application.

Using the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration

Once the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration has been received, the deceased’s executors or administrators can send certified copies to each of the asset holders, requesting that they close the account or encash policies, sending funds to the executor or administrator.

If you would like professional help in applying for a Grant or in dealing with the estate administration, you can instruct a probate solicitor to act for you. As well as obtaining the Grant, they will be able to deal with the winding-up of the estate, to include preparation of detailed estate accounts.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert probate lawyers, ring us on 0800 781 6658 or email us at

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