When someone dies, those in charge of administering their estate (the executors) may be required to obtain confirmation before they can carry out their duties. This process differs slightly from the equivalent process in England and Wales, known as obtaining a grant of probate.
A certificate of confirmation is a court-issued legal document that grants authority to the executor(s) to collect money and property belonging to the deceased from those who hold it – typically banks, building societies, insurance companies, etc. – and distribute these assets in accordance with the law.
The executor(s) names in the deceased’s Will can apply for a certificate of confirmation.
Where the person died without leaving a Will (known as dying intestate), a solicitor can arrange for a close relative (in most cases a spouse, civil partner, child, sibling or parent of the deceased) to be appointed ‘executor dative’ by the sheriff court. The executor dative can then apply for confirmation if required.
The sheriff court grants certificates of confirmation. The confirmation procedure, forms and fees that apply will depend on the size of the estate. As such, the executor(s) must provide an inventory and valuation of the deceased’s estate to the court, including all assets and outstanding debt at the time of their death. The inventory may include:
Small estates are those that have a total value of £36,000 or less. For these estates, you can apply to the sheriff clerk yourself for confirmation or your solicitor can do this on your behalf.
Large estates are those above the value of £36,000. When it comes to applying for confirmation for this type of estate, it is highly advisable that you instruct a solicitor to help you as sheriff clerk will be unable to assist. Your solicitor’s service will include valuing the estate and gathering all the information required to complete the C1, C5 and IHT forms. Your lawyer can also help you apply for a bond of caution (an insurance policy to protect the estate against an executor’s mismanagement) if required.
For comprehensive legal support when obtaining confirmation, speak to the specialist private client lawyers at MSHB. Our specialists are on hand to guide you through this process and to answer any questions you may have clearly and quickly.