The Death of a Relative and the Probate Process

the Probate Process


Coping with the death of a relative can be a stressful and emotional time.

Hopefully, the following will be helpful to those who may be dealing with such issues, perhaps for the first time. This breakdown simplifies some of the process and includes guidance from the organisations you will need to deal with such as the registrar, government agencies, an undertaker and potentially a solicitor is advised.

Registering a Death

The first thing you need to do is to register the death within 5 days. Having done this, you will be issued with a certificate of burial to hand to an undertaker.

Informing the Government

Having registered the death, you will be issued with a ‘Tell Us Once’ unique reference number and the registrar will guide you through the process or provide you with details of the number to call. This service must be used within 28 days of receiving the unique reference number. You may need some details relating to the deceased, so it is best to check the requirements in advance. The Tell Us Once Service notifies Government Departments and is a convenient way of doing so in one go.

The Funeral

This can only take place after the registration of death is completed. It is well worth checking whether the deceased had plans in place for their funeral, including any pre-paid funeral plan.

Bereavement Support Payment

If it is a spouse that has died you may be eligible for a bereavement support payment. This is not means tested but there are eligibility criteria that should be checked. Any claims need to be made within 21 months of the death. Details can be checked with the Bereavement Service.

Value the Estate and Determine If There Is Inheritance Tax to Pay

To determine if there is Inheritance Tax to pay, you will need to ascertain the value of the money, property and possessions (‘estate’) of the person who has died as at the date of death. If there is Inheritance Tax to pay, this has to be done within six months of the end of the month that the person died and before Probate can be applied for.


Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s estate and distribute to their beneficiaries.

A person’s estate includes property, money, debt, and the deceased’s possessions. There is a legal process to obtain a Grant of Probate and no financial plans should begin until probate is in place, such as marketing a property for sale. Pictons can guide you through this process.

It is worth stating that the probate process can take some time, and will involve notifying banks, building societies, closing any accounts they hold, tallying up their assets and liabilities, paying any tax due on income and gains and thereafter distributing their assets.

If you require advice on the legal aspects associated with the death of a loved one, please contact our specialist team.

T: 0800 302 9448