Probate: Where do I start?

When someone dies and before you start the probate process, it's important to complete some initial tasks to secure the deceased's property and check on their correspondence.

These tasks should be attended to as soon as possible, in preparation for dealing with the assets and liabilities of the estate.

Your first tasks as executors are as follows:

1. Redirect the post

Change the deceased’s postal address to that of the first applicant - the executor who is to handle day-to-day business and personal affairs.

2. Check on the property

If the deceased's home is now left unoccupied, ensure that it’s securely locked; that water, electricity and gas supplies have been turned off (if appropriate).

3. Check the insurance policies

Ensure that there are both current buildings and contents insurance policies on the home.

The executors may be held liable by any beneficiary who receives less from the estate than they should have because of a burglary, fire or other loss.

4. Notify the insurers

The insurers should be notified of the death and given the names and addresses of the executors.

5. Remove any valuable items

If there are particularly valuable items at the deceased’s home and it is to be left unoccupied, it may be better to remove them for safekeeping.

6. Open an executor’s bank account

You will eventually deposit the proceeds of assets into this bank account. From this account you will also pay the liabilities and expenses of the estate and distribute the monies under the Will or intestacy.

7. Find the probate documents

Make a thorough search of the deceased’s papers and online records for the documents that will be needed to do probate. These will include:

  • Cheque books
  • Bank statements
  • Savings certificates and other National Savings assets
  • Outstanding bills
  • Share certificates and stockbroker’s details
  • Car registration documents
  • Mortgage papers
  • Insurance and pension documentation
  • Information on jewellery and collectables; for example, insurance valuations
  • Tax assessments, returns and other Tax papers

Once you have completed these tasks, the next task of executors is to identify the deceased's assets

You may also need to apply for a grant of representation (in England & Wales) or for confirmation (in Scotland) from the Probate Service.

Whether you require a grant of probate depends not only on the size of the deceased's estate, but also on the kinds of assets in it. 

Find out more on whether you need a grant of representation.

Other information


External links


Published on: May 21, 2012

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