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Our guide to probate

Learn about the legal process that’s required to sort out the estate of someone who has died.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process that gives you the right to sort out a deceased person’s estate. This includes things like money, property and belongings. But it can also cover any debts and taxes that are owed.

To obtain this legal right, you need to apply for a grant of representation. The way this works depends on the presence of a will:

Once the relevant document arrives, you can begin to sort out the estate.

When is probate needed?

Probate is typically needed when either:

If a bank or financial institution asks for a probate grant, it's a good indication that probate is needed. But the qualifying threshold can vary between banks and financial institutions.

Probate might not be needed if the deceased person co-owned shares, money, land or property, because these assets could pass to the surviving owners. However, you will need to complete any necessary paperwork. For example, if a property was co-owned, you need to update the Land Registry by completing a deceased joint proprietor form.

In addition, probate might not be needed if the person who died only had savings assets.

Depending on your situation, it can be helpful or essential to get expert probate advice.

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Get probate advice and support

Co-op Legal Services offers free initial advice on whether you need probate, what's involved and a no obligation fixed fee quote for their complete probate service.

What does the personal representative do?

The personal representative is responsible for sorting out the estate. They are either the:

Depending on the estate, the executor or administrator might need to:

If you’re concerned there’s not enough money in the estate to cover expenses (taxes, bills, fees etc), it might help to get expert probate advice.

For more information, our partners Co-op Legal Services have put together a helpful page for executors and administrators. It features a range of tools, checklists and guides.

What does probate cost?

Even if you don’t pay for the help of a probate specialist, probate can cost money.

Application fee

The application fee in England and Wales is £300. However, you might not need to pay if:

Need to make a second probate application for the same estate? This costs £20 even if the value of the estate is £5,000 or less.

Probate forms

Official probate forms are needed to complete the process. Each copy of the form costs £1.50.

For more information about fees, visit the Government website.

Please note the process and fees involved differs in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Probate in Scotland is known as 'confirmation'.

How long does probate take?

Probate can be a lengthy process. It typically takes between nine and 12 months to settle an estate. But it might take significantly longer if:

Get probate support from Saga Legal

Saga Legal has partnered with Co-op Legal Services, who provide regulated legal services, helping to ensure you have the right level of support and protection for yourself and your family.

Co-op Legal Services provides comprehensive probate support, guiding clients through each step of the probate process and offering clear and practical advice. They can handle all the necessary paperwork, including obtaining the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, valuing the estate, settling debts with creditors, dealing with Inheritance Tax, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

By taking on responsibility for all the legal, tax and administrative work, Co-op Legal Services alleviates the burden on the executor or next of kin.

As the largest probate provider in the UK, Co-op Legal Services has extensive experience in the legal process of estate administration. Their specialist expertise ensures that the probate process is conducted efficiently and accurately, saving time and reducing potential errors.

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Sorting things out when someone has died

Find out what's involved with being the executor or administrator of someone's estate.

And get help with all the things you need to do.

Find out more

How legal experts can help you

It’s not an easy task to administer someone’s estate without support. The process is complex and can take a lot of time. There’s also risk involved, because you could be held legally responsible for any mistakes made.

Given the number of legal, financial and property tasks required, it may be worth getting help from probate experts. It’s even more important to seek legal support if the estate is difficult to sort out. For example, the terms might not be clear, or someone could be disputing the will.

If you decide to get professional help, there are two types of probate service available:

Full Estate Administration

This service deals with all aspects of probate, including:

Grant Only

With this service, it’s up to you to provide details of the deceased person’s assets and any debts they owed. Your administrator will then prepare the legal paperwork, before giving you the grant to deal with.

Next, it’s your responsibility to register with the banks, close accounts, pay off liabilities, settle taxes and distribute the estate. It’s also up to you make sure:

Here and ready when you are

Whether you have questions about probate or just want to find out more, the expert team are on hand to help.

0800 096 0206

Mon - Thu 9:00am - 6:30pm
Fri - 9:00am - 5:30pm
Sat - 10am - 2pm
Sun - Closed
Excluding bank holidays

Get probate advice and support

Saga is a registered trading name of Saga Personal Finance Limited, which is registered in England and Wales (company number 3023493). Registered office 3 Pancras Square, London, N1C 4AG. Saga is not authorised or regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). All legal services are provided by Co-op Legal Services. Co-op Legal Services is a trading name of Co-operative Legal Services Limited which is authorised and regulated by the SRA, under registration number 567391.