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When someone dies, all that they leave behind, such as their property and debts, needs to be dealt with. This is known as winding up an estate, and to start the process it is necessary to get permission from the court. In Scotland, this is known as obtaining Confirmation, but it is also commonly described as applying for probate (probate is the term used to describe the process south of the border).

Both confirmation and probate broadly refer to the process of being granted the legal rights necessary to wind up a deceased’s estate. Once confirmation or probate is granted, it is possible to:

  • Receive payments owed to the deceased’s estate;
  • Make payments from the deceased’s estate, such as to cover funeral expenses and settle any debts, utilities bills or tax liabilities;
  • Distribute the deceased’s assets according to the law and terms of the Will (where there is one).

How do I apply for probate in Scotland?

When winding up an estate in Scotland, the first step is for the individual nominated to act as the deceased’s representative (the executor) to make an application for Confirmation (the Scottish equivalent of probate) to the Sheriff court for the area where the deceased lived.

An application for Confirmation must also include an inventory of all the deceased’s property at the time of death. This means all money, houses, land and any other assets, such as company shares, that the deceased owned when they died.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s possible to apply for Confirmation if the deceased also had property and money located overseas, provided the inventory has at least one item of money or other property that’s in Scotland.

Once Confirmation is granted, the executor can start winding up the deceased’s estate. In other words, the court has granted the person seeking Confirmation (the executor) the authority to uplift money or property belonging to the deceased (often held by another source, such as a bank or building society) and to administer and distribute it.

How do I apply for probate in Scotland if there’s no Will?

If there’s no will (known as dying intestate), the process of applying for Confirmation (known as probate in England & Wales) can be more complicated and involves an additional preliminary procedure.

Which procedure applies depends on the size of the estate. If the deceased’s estate is classed as a ‘small estate’, it is necessary to get a bond of caution (which is effectively an Insurance Policy against claims made against the Executor) before applying for Confirmation. If the deceased’s estate is classed as a ‘large estate’, it is necessary to be appointed an executor (a representative of the dead person) before applying for Confirmation. 

Do I need a probate solicitor?

It isn’t mandatory to have legal assistance with winding up an estate in Scotland, but it is strongly recommended as best practice. It can also help to relieve the stress that can be caused by navigating the complex legal processes and procedures involved in bringing the affairs of a loved one to a close.

There’s no need to navigate through the complex processes and procedures of probate on your own. At andersonbain, our specialist executry team understand that organising the estate of a departed loved one can be an incredibly difficult undertaking. We are well known for our dedication to our clients and are regularly instructed to provide expert advice and assistance with winding up an estate, including:

  • Making all the necessary court applications, such as for probate/Confirmation
  • Completion of all relevant paperwork
  • Assessing inheritance tax liabilities and dealing with HMRC
  • Gathering together the estate and realising assets, such as investments, pensions and property
  • Helping to locate and identify beneficiaries
  • Distributing the estate
  • Settling debts properly due by the Estate including IHT

Expert Probate Lawyers in Aberdeen, Scotland

andersonbain has extensive experience of executry work in applying for probate in Scotland (confirmation) and offers efficient and approachable help during what is likely to be a difficult time. 

We pride ourselves on being approachable and giving each of our clients the support they need, providing bespoke and proactive updates on how matters are progressing. To find out more about how we can help with executry in Stonehaven, Laurencekirk, Montrose and other surrounding areas in Aberdeen, Scotland, please contact us or call on 01224 456 789


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