Only certain people can apply for probate to deal with the estate of someone who died. It depends on whether the person who died left a will.
A will states what should happen to a person’s property and belongings (‘estate’) after they die. It’s usually valid if it’s been signed by the person who made it and 2 witnesses.
If there’s a will you can apply for probate if you’re named in the will, or in an update to the will (a ‘codicil’), as an ‘executor’.
You’ll need the original will and any updates to apply for probate. These must be original documents, not photocopies.
If you do not want to apply for probate, fill in a form to give up executor rights.
Find out what to do if you’re an executor.
If the person did not leave a will the ‘administrator’ deals with the estate.
You can apply to become the estate’s administrator if you are 18 or over and you are the most ‘entitled’ inheritor of the deceased’s estate. This is usually the deceased’s closest living relative. Relatives are the most entitled inheritors in the following order:
husband, wife or civil partner (including if they were separated)
children (including legally adopted children but not step-children)
brothers and sisters
nieces and nephews
half-brothers and half-sisters
half-nieces and half-nephews (the children of the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased)
aunts and uncles
half-aunts and half-uncles (the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased’s parent)
half-cousins (the children of the half-brothers and half-sisters of the deceased’s parent)
To apply, follow the same steps as applying for probate.
You’ll receive ‘letters of administration’ to prove you have the legal right to deal with the estate. You cannot apply if you’re the partner of the person but were not their spouse or civil partner when they died. You’re not automatically entitled to any of their estate, unless you’re able to make changes to the inheritance.
If you do not want to apply
If you’re the most entitled inheritor and you do not want to apply to be the administrator, you can either:
APPOINT A LAWYER - such as WALSH WEST LAW - to act on your behalf
nominate up to 2 people to be the next most entitled inheritor
Work out who inherits
The law decides who inherits the estate if there’s no will.
You’ll need this information to report the estate’s value and find out if there’s Inheritance Tax to pay.
For advice call our team on
0203 488 7503, 01992 236 110 or contact us by email at