Confirmation is the Scottish equivalent of the probate procedure in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It is granted by the Sheriff Court in the district in which the deceased was resident and provides the executors with authority to deal with the estate; whether it be closing bank accounts, selling property or transferring or selling shares.
While there are similarities with the probate procedure, there are also significant differences, principally in terms of the paperwork required.
For ‘small’ estates with a gross value of (currently) £36,000 or less, executors are entitled to free assistance with obtaining confirmation from the local Sheriff Court.
How do I apply for confirmation?
The process involves conducting a thorough examination of the deceased’s financial papers to draw together the information needed to complete the confirmation application form C1. This form accompanies the inheritance tax return and provides details about the deceased and the estate.
Where a person dies without a will, an application must first be made to the Sheriff Court to have an executor appointed and in most cases it will also be necessary to obtain an insurance document known as a Bond of Caution. Legislation sets out who may be appointed as an executor in the absence of a will and it is important that the correct individuals are identified from the start.
The Form C1 includes a declaration by the executors confirming that the contents of the form are correct, to the best of their knowledge. As the declaration is similar to swearing an oath in court, it is crucial that full enquiries be made into the assets of the estate and into the deceased’s tax affairs.
Where inheritance tax is due, a copy of the signed confirmation application must first be submitted to HMRC along with the tax return, before being sent to the Court. The tax must be paid at the same time, either in full or as a first instalment where this is permitted. Once the application is submitted the Sheriff Clerk will check it and if satisfied, submit it to the Sheriff to issue the Grant of Confirmation.
How much will it cost?
Court fees are presently £266 for estates worth between £50,000.01 and £250,000 and £532 for all estates worth over £250,000. There is no court fee for estates with a gross value of £50,000 or less.
Separate charges ranging from £8 to £19 apply where individual ‘Certificates of Confirmation’ are requested, focusing on specific assets in the estate. These certificates are often used to speed up the ingathering process after Confirmation has been granted, as an alternative to circulating the original Confirmation document to each asset holder in turn.
The same fee will be charged again, in full, where it is necessary to amend the application after Confirmation has been granted, and care should therefore be taken to ensure that no assets are missed out or reported incorrectly.
It is crucial when obtaining confirmation that the specific procedures used in Scotland are followed. To ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, it is recommended that advice be sought from a suitably qualified advisor.