Probate Northern Ireland: Probate Services For Estate Management

Probate can be stressful, especially during a difficult time. Solicitors may charge a percentage fee for the estate. This might leave less than expected to distribute.

Join those in Northern Ireland who have utilised the free and impartial advice from The National Bereavement Service. Our aim is to make sure you have the information you need to help you be certain you have the best probate option for your situation.

Speak to The NBS today and check your options for probate in Northern Ireland.

Quick Guide:

1. Probate in Northern Ireland is the process of proving a will and administering an estate after someone has died.

2. The executor of the will must apply for probate at the Principal Registry of the Family Division in Belfast, which is part of the High Court.

3. The application must include a copy of the death certificate, original will and any codicils (amendments to it), and details about all assets and liabilities held by the deceased person at their time of death.

4. Once granted, executors gain legal authority to administer an estate according to its terms or distribute it according to intestacy laws if no valid will is present.

5. Executors are responsible for paying inheritance tax on behalf of beneficiaries if applicable, settling debts owed by the deceased person’s estate and distributing assets among those entitled under law or named in a valid will before closing out an estate’s affairs with HMRC.

What is probate?

Probate in Northern Ireland is a term that describes the process of proving a will as per Northern Irish Law. Once granted, the executor gains legal authority to adminster an estate of someone who has died according to the terms of a will or if there is no valid will, according to rules of intestacy within the latest inheritance law legislation.

In most cases, banks or relevant institutions will need to see a grant before transferring control of any assets. If estates involved are small, some organisations may choose to release money to without a grant.

Before you apply, you need to check whether there is a will. If there is a will, you’ll get a ‘Grant of Probate’. If there is no will, referred to as Intestate, you’ll get ‘Letters of Administration’.

When is probate required?

For Northern Ireland, when the person who died leaves one or more of the following:

  • £20,000 or more
  • Stocks or shares
  • Certain insurance policies
  • Property or land held in their own name or as ‘tenants in common​’

​You may not need a grant if the deceased left less than £20,000, or if everything was jointly owned with someone else in which case everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
– Probate in Northern Ireland is a relatively straightforward process if everyone agrees to the process or distribution of assets, with most applications being processed within six weeks.

– The cost of probate in Northern Ireland is generally lower than in other parts of the UK.

– There are no inheritance tax liabilities for estates valued at less than £325,000.

– Professional advice and assistance can be obtained from solicitors or accountants to ensure that all Northern Irish law legal requirements are met.

Cons:
– It can take longer to obtain a grant if complex issues are involved, such as multiple beneficiaries or disputes over assets.

– If an estate has been subject to Inheritance Tax, additional fees may apply when applying for probate in Northern Ireland.

– In some cases, obtaining a Grant of Representation from the High Court in Northern Ireland may be necessary, which can further delay the process.

Get Help Today

Have you started probate online and not sure how to complete? Are you considering whether to do probate yourself?

The NBS offers free probate support services to all UK residents.

Call or send us a message and receive:

  • Free advice on whether probate is required
  • Unbiased support on how to proceed
  • The options available for your specific circumstances
  • Friendly advice from experienced experts

Don’t overpay for probate. Speak to The NBS today and discover what options you have.

Seek Professional Advice

Similar to process in Scotland, England and Wales, it can be confusing and stressful to navigate.

If you are at all uncertain about what information to include or how to value assets for probate in Northern Ireland, it is always worth using a solicitor to make sure all the forms are completed correctly. Also, if there is any possibility of someone challenging the will or your actions again it is worth talking to a specialist probate solicitor as early as possible to discuss your options. Try looking for someone who carries the letters TEP after their name as this denotes membership of the internationally recognised body STEP (Society of Trusts and estates Practitioners) which requires passing stringent exams and ongoing competency requirements to prove their worthiness of retaining their qualification).

If there is any chance of the matter being challenged it is always worth consulting with a solicitor who carries the letters ACTAPS (Association of Contested Trusts and Probate Practitioners) as they will have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this challenging area of law and may help you decide your course of action thereby saving you possibly many months and even years of unnecessary heartache.

Solicitors can also help you understand whether the wording of a will for probate is likely to cause any disputes and navigate these if required.

Enquiring with NI Gov

You can also contact probate@courtsni.gov.uk to speak to someone.

Estate Valuation

As part of the process, you need to value the estate, which involves collating all the information on the deceased’s land, property, money, possessions, shares, and debts. The total value of these assets will determine which forms you will need to complete.

For estates under the current Inheritance Tax threshold, you will need to complete the IHT205 form.

If the estate is over this threshold, you will need to complete the IHT400 form.

Submit Application

Probate applications must be made to the Probate Office in Belfast.

The application must include details about the deceased person’s assets and liabilities, as well as any beneficiaries who are entitled to receive a share of the estate.

It is important that all relevant documents are provided when making an application for probate in Northern Ireland, including proof of identity and death certificates.

The Interview

Once you have completed all the documents, you must send a completed appointment request with a copy of the death certificate, IHT205/IHT400, and a copy of the will, if there is one.

If the deceased lived in the counties of Fermanagh, Londonderry, or Tyrone, you could use either the Londonderry or Belfast office, but if they lived in the counties of Antrim, Armagh, or Down, you must use the Belfast office.

Gather Required Documents

When you attend the appointment, you will need the following documents:

  • Photo ID for Executors
  • Death or Coroner’s Certificate
  • Estate Summary Form NIPF7
  • Original will
  • Marriage Certificate (if there is no will and the deceased was married)
  • Decree Absolute (if there’s no will and the deceased was divorced)
  • Probate fee payment
  • Other forms required by The Probate Office

The Probate Office will try to give you an interview within three weeks of getting your appointment request form. You will be notified of the appointment date/time by telephone or letter.

The interview will take place in a probate office and will last about 30 minutes.

If the deceased person left a will, at least seven days must have passed from the date of death to the date of appointment. If there is no will, 28 days must have passed.

Distribute Assets

When distributing assets during inheritance, the executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for ensuring that all beneficiaries receive their rightful share.

This process begins with a review of any existing wills and other documents to determine who should be entitled to what portion of the estate. The executor will then need to identify and value all assets in order to calculate how much each beneficiary should receive.

Once this has been done, they can begin transferring ownership of these assets according to the terms set out in the will or letters of administration. In some cases, it may also be necessary for debts or taxes to be paid first before distributing any remaining funds among beneficiaries.

Understand Costs

The fees to be paid are based on the net value of the estate and are made up of two parts; the grant fee and the personal application fee.

The personal application fee is only charged if you are applying for a grant without a solicitor.

Certified copies of a grant cost £14.00 each. These are useful if you must deal with several financial institutions.

If you think you’ll have trouble paying the fees, you may be able to get help. Find out more at this link: Court fees.

A cheque should be made payable to the NICTS for the total fee:

  • Application for Grant Fee: £261.00 (if the estate value is less than £10,000 the application fee does not apply)
  • Personal Application Fee: £65.00 (if the estate value is less than £10,000 the application fee does not apply)
  • Fee for an extra sealed copy of the grant: £14.00

If you wish to pay the fees by card payment, you should indicate this on the application form and a member of the court staff will contact you to arrange payment.