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How to Conduct a Probate: Initial Stages [DOWNLOAD AVAILABLE]

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Question: If a loved one died, would you know how to handle their estate and conduct a probate?

Probate is the legal and financial process of transferring the estate of someone who has died, into the ownership of those who have survived them. In simple terms, this means settling someone’s estate and deciding – and being granted proper permissions to decide – who gets what.

Moreover, being able to conduct a probate is increasingly crucial in a time of loss. That’s because probates are one of the most common grants filed in the UK. According to HMRC figures for the third quarter of 2019, a significant majority (80%) of the nearly 67,000 grants of representation issued were probate grants.

Here at TCB Life, we’ve put together a free 7-step guide to the processes involved in probate management on your own. You can download it here, and get a preview of what’s in there in the blog post below. We’ll talk in this space about a probate’s initial stages, and what you will need to take care of immediately.

Download the Seven-Step TCB Life Probate Guide

There are a variety of government institutions you'll need to inform when you execute a will
There are a variety of government institutions you’ll need to inform when you execute a will

Registering the death

The first step in organising a loved one’s estate is to register the death and ensure that all necessary institutions have been notified.

The first step here is to locate your local registry office and make an appointment to register the death. In England and Wales, you have a 5-day limit to register a death; whereas in Scotland, you have up to 8 days.

When you attend your appointment all you need is the medical certificate of death which you should have been given by a medical professional by this point. Further supporting documentation belonging to the deceased’s estate can help speed up your appointment. It will help if you can take

  • Photographic ID;
  • Proof of address;
  • A birth certificate;
  • A council tax bill;
  • An NHS medical card or number.

If you don’t have these, don’t worry, but the registrars will have some more questions for you.

At the end of your appointment, you’ll be given some important documents including a death certificate. Additional copies of the death certificate are available for a fee. Regarding a variety of elements now involved such as funeral plans, it’s important that you get some now for the next step.

Notifying the proper institutions

For the next stage on how to conduct a probate properly, we can proceed when you have copies of the death certificates. Given that, now it’s time to inform all of the government and financial organisations that your loved one had dealings with. This includes:

Government institutions

  • Electoral register;
  • Housing benefit;
  • Council tax office;
  • State pension service ;
  • JobCentre Plus (if they receive any benefits);
  • HMRC;
  • Social services;
  • The DVLA;
  • The passport agency.

Financial organisations

  • Mortgage provider;
  • Private landlord/housing association;
  • Insurance providers;
  • Banks/building societies;
  • Private pension provider;
  • Credit/store card providers.

If the deceased holds any other accounts solely in their name with financial organisations, these financial organisations should also be informed. You can use something called the death notification service to notify multiple banks and building societies at once. Visit their site to find out which institutions they apply to.

Financial organisations connected to the deceased will need to be informed when you're managing a probate.

Other things to consider when you conduct a probate

Similarly for government bodies, in some areas of the UK, you can use the local council’s Tell us once service. This isn’t available for all councils so head to your local council’s website or gov.uk to find out if the service is available in your area.


Want to learn more about probate?
Stay tuned to this blog, and download the official TCB Life Seven-Step Probate Guide.

Download the Seven-Step TCB Life Probate Guide

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