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Applying for probate in Northern Ireland

If you are an executor of someone's will you may need a legal document called a 'grant of probate' to enable you to sort out the deceased person's affairs. If there is no will, a close relative can apply for a 'grant of letters of administration'.

If there's more than one executor

If there's more than one executor it's common to agree that one will apply for the grant and sort out the estate. However any number of executors can apply jointly and sort out everything together.

Applying for a grant using a solicitor

You can ask a solicitor to apply for the grant for you. There is normally a charge to provide this service, so check out this cost first. You can search for a solicitor specialising in probate using the Solicitors Directory facility on The Law Society of Northern Ireland website.

Applying for a grant without a solicitor

If the deceased person lived in Northern Ireland and you are named as an executor in their will, or if they did not leave a will and you are the next of kin and are resident in the United Kingdom, you may apply for a grant as a 'personal applicant' without using a solicitor.

The tax form you need to complete depends on whether or not you expect Inheritance Tax to be due on the estate. Inheritance Tax is only paid in a small number of cases, when the taxable value of the deceased person's estate (after exemptions) is over £325,000 (applies for deaths in the 2010 to 2011 tax year).

Applying for probate in Northern Ireland - tax forms you need to complete

You'll find the links to these forms below.

Country in which the deceased person lived Required forms if Inheritance Tax is unlikely to be due ('excepted estates') Required forms if you expect Inheritance Tax to be due
Northern Ireland 'Return of Estate Information IHT205 only 'Inheritance Tax Account' - IHT400 and 'Probate summary' - IHT421

There are additional supplementary forms that accompany the IHT400. Use the IHT400 help notes to help you decide which you need to complete.

Next steps if you completed the tax form IHT205

In order to obtain probate, you'll need to attend an interview to produce original documents, confirm the details in your application. and sign probate forms prepared by registry staff.

  • identify which registry can deal with your application - if the person lived in County Fermanagh, Londonderry or Tyrone you may use the registry in Londonderry or Belfast; if the person lived in County Antrim, Armagh or Down you must use the registry in Belfast
  • send a copy of the death certificate, the completed tax form IHT205 and, if there is one a copy of the will with an appointment request form to the appropriate registry
  • you'll receive notification of an appointment for an interview within about ten days of sending in your request
  • if everything is satisfactory at the interview you should receive the grant of probate by post soon after the interview

Next steps if you completed the tax form IHT400 and IHT421

In order to obtain probate, you'll need to attend an interview to produce original documents, confirm the details in your application. and sign probate forms prepared by registry staff.

  • identify which registry can deal with your application - if the person lived in County Fermanagh, Londonderry or Tyrone you may use the registry in Londonderry or Belfast; if the person lived in County Antrim, Armagh or Down you must use the registry in Belfast
  • send form IHT400 and form IHT421 (together with any payment of Inheritance Tax if you've already worked this out) to HMRC in Nottingham - you'll find the address in the IHT400 notes
  • if you've indicated that you'd like HMRC to work out the tax for you they will do this and tell you what is due
  • once any tax due has been paid, or if there's no tax to pay, HMRC will stamp and return the IHT421 to you confirming this
  • send a copy of the death certificate, the stamped IHT421 Probate Summary, and, if there is one, a copy of the will with an appointment request form to the appropriate registry
  • you'll receive notification of an appointment for interview within about ten days of sending in your application
  • if everything is satisfactory at the interview you should receive the grant of probate by post soon after the interview

Probate registries in Northern Ireland

Belfast (Principal Registry):

The Probate Office
2nd Floor, Royal Courts of Justice
Chichester Street
Belfast
BT1 3JF
  • phone: 028 9072 4678

Londonderry (District Registry)

The Courthouse
Bishop Street
Londonderry
BT48 6PQ
  • phone 028 7126 1832

The cost of a grant

There's no fee to pay if the amount left in the deceased person's sole name after funeral expenses and debt payment (the 'net estate') is £10,000 or less. If the net estate is over £10,000 the fee is £200. Extra copies of the grant cost £10 each and may be ordered at the time of application.

When applying for a grant without a solicitor there is an additional 'personal application' fee of £50 if the net estate exceeds £10,000.

If payment will cause you financial hardship you can ask for 'remission' from payment. Ask the registry staff for the 'Court Fees' booklet and form or download from the following link.

More information

If you have any queries about applying for probate, call the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline on:

  • 0845 30 20 900

Lines are open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 5 pm, bank holidays excepted.

More useful links