Probate in Northern Ireland is a very similar process to that of England and Wales.
Before you apply for probate you need to check whether or not there is a will. If the person left a will, you'll get a 'Grant of Probate', if the person did not leave a will (sometimes referred to as Intestate), you'll get 'Letters of Administration'.
A grant is almost always needed when the person who died leaves one or more of the following:
£10,000 or more
Stocks or shares
Certain insurance policies
Property or land held in their own name or as 'tenants in common'
In most cases above, the bank or relevant institution will need to see the grant before transferring control of the assets. Where the estate is small some organisations may choose to release the money to you without a grant.
You may not need a grant if the deceased left less that £10,000, or if everything was jointly owned with someone else in which case everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.
VALUE THE ESTATE
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 detmine which forms you will need to complete.
For Estates under the current Inheritance Tax Threshold (currently £325,000) you will need to complete the IHT205 form.
If the Estate is over this threshold, you will need to complete the IHT400 form.
Once you have completed all the documents you will need to send a completed appointment request with copy of the death certificate, IHT205/IHT400 and a copy of the Will if there is one.
If the deceased lived in the county Fermanagh, Londonderry or Tyrone, you can use either the Londonderry or Belfast office, but if they lived in the county Antrim, Armagh or Down, you must use the Belfast office.
When you attend the appointment, you will need the following documents:
Photo ID for Executors
Death or Coroner's Certificate
Inheritance Tax Form (IHT205 or IHT421)
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 free 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 telelphone 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.
There is no fee if the Estate is less than £10,000. If the value is over £10,000 the fee is £296*.