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A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Confirmation in Scotland

Applying for Confirmation in Scotland Guide

When someone dies, the person who is responsible for administering their estate will often need to apply for ‘Confirmation' before the deceased's money and other property can be engathered and distributed.

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Experienced Executry Solicitors based in Glasgow

If you require assistance with winding up a deceased’s affairs in Scotland, our executory solicitors can help. We can help you through the legal process: we can obtain confirmation from the local sheriff court, pay funeral expenses, estimate the total value of the assets, access bank accounts, pay any debts owed, sell or distribute the deceased’s property, identify surviving relatives and pay inheritance tax. Arrange a callback today.

What is Confirmation?

Confirmation is a legal document issued by the Sheriff Court which provides the executor with the legal authority to uplift the deceased’s assets from the holder (such as the bank), to sell or transfer any property and to administer the estate accordingly. By granting Confirmation, the court is confirming that the executor, has the right to administer the deceased’s estate and entrusts them to distribute the assets in accordance with either the deceased’s Will or the law if there is no Will.  When Confirmation has been granted, the Court can provide a Certificate of Confirmation for each asset.

Why do I need a certificate of Confirmation?

Asset holders will often request sight of a Certificate of Confirmation prior to releasing the asset to the executor or their Solicitor especially when the asset is a large value, usually over £10,000.  The reason for this is that the certificate provides them with proof that the executor has the authority to receive and administer the deceased’s money or assets. Without the certificate, they may refuse access to the funds- meaning the executor is unable to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.

Clarifying whether Confirmation is needed

First and foremost, an executor must determine whether Confirmation is necessary for the estate. Although Confirmation is almost always required, there are a few exceptions to the rule:

  • If the deceased’s total estate value does not exceed £5,000, or;
  • The deceased owned everything jointly with someone else and every asset from the estate automatically passes on to the surviving joint owner.

Taking inventory of the estate

In order to apply for Confirmation, the executor must provide a thorough list of the deceased’s heritable and moveable estate at the time of death and its value. Confirmation can only be applied for if the inventory consists of at least one item of money or property in Scotland. The inventory might include assets such as:

  • money

  • houses

  • land

  • shares

The process of completing the deceased’s inventory can be lengthy – this is due to a waiting period for organisations to get back with an up to date valuation of their assets.

How do I calculate the value of the estate?

In Scotland, there are two types of Confirmation: small estates and large estates.

A ‘small estate’ has a total value of £36,000 or less. Where the estate is classed as a small estate and the deceased has left a Will, the Sheriff Clerk at the Sheriff Court can assist the executor with completing the forms. 

A ‘large estate’ is an estate which has a total value of anything above £36,000. Sheriff Clerk cannot assist executors in applying for Confirmation to a large estate and, therefore, legal guidance from a professional executry and probate solicitor is highly recommended.

It is crucial that, when calculating the total value, that any debts owed by the deceased are not deducted. These can include funeral expenses, gas or electricity bill.

I turned to Wilson & Fish Solicitors after seeing a recommendation online and from start to finish I have been treated with nothing but professionalism. At every point I felt my late fathers estate was being handled with care and attention. I would without a doubt use Wilson & Fish again and fully recommend them.” – Ryan Williamson.

Is the estate liable to inheritance tax?

Once all the assets in the estate have been ascertained, a solicitor can then determine whether or not inheritance tax (IHT) will need to be paid. Estates with a value of over £325,000 are liable to IHT, and this must be paid before or at the same time that the executor applies for Confirmation. The executor will have to pay the tax before the money from the estate is distributed and so, a short-term bank loan may be needed.

Excepted Estates

An excepted estate is where IHT is not payable. There are currently three types of excepted estates:

Low-Value Estate: no IHT liability because the gross value of the estate is below the IHT threshold applicable at the date of death. If the death occurred between the 6th April and the 5th August and an application for Confirmation is made before the 6th of August in the same year, the IHT threshold from the previous year must be used.

Exempt Estate: the estate’s gross value is below £1 million (for deaths from 1st January 2022 the value is below £3 million) and all the estate or everything over the IHT threshold is either inherited by a spouse or civil partner in the UK, or a qualifying charity.

Foreign Domiciliary: there is no liability to IHT if the deceased permanently lived abroad and the value of the UK assets are below £150,000.

It should be noted that, since 6 April 2010, it has also been possible to use the excepted estate procedure if the value of the estate is less than double the IHT threshold and a claim is made to transfer the unused IHT Nil Rate Band from the death of a spouse or civil partner.

When is an estate not an excepted estate?

An estate cannot qualify as an excepted estate if the deceased:

  • left an estate worth more than the IHT threshold,

  • left an estate worth more than £1 million (for deaths from 1st January 2022 the value is below £3 million) to a spouse, civil partner or ‘qualifying’ charity,

  • had a permanent home outside of the UK at the point of death but had a permanent home within the UK at some other time,

  • had assets in a trust valued in excess of £150,000 (for deaths from 1st January 2022 the trust value is in excess of £250,000), or held more than one trust,

  • had assets worth more than £100,000  outside of the UK,

  • made gifts within seven years before they died and the value of the gifts totalled more than £150,000 (for deaths from 1st January 2022 the gift value is in excess of £250,000) after deducting any IHT exemptions,

  • made gifts into trusts,

  • continued to benefit from a gift they had made to someone else, such as their house or car,

  • had a personal pension from which they had not taken their full retirement benefits, and when they were either in poor health or terminally ill, they changed the death benefits payable on it to increase the value of the lump sum.

Confirmation with a Will

The Confirmation procedure will vary depending on whether or not the deceased left a Will. If there is a Will, the estate is referred to as ‘testate’. If the Will complies with all of the legal requirements in Scotland, then the information above regarding small and large estates will apply.

Confirmation without a Will

If the deceased did not leave a Will, the estate would be referred to as ‘intestate’, or Intestate Estate. An executor will have to obtain an insurance policy known as a Bond of Caution before applying for Confirmation. A Bond of Caution is insurance against an executor applying for Confirmation when they are not entitled to do so and also failing to distribute the estate according to law. In the case that the deceased left a ‘large estate’ but no Will, there is an additional step to the process above and that is that the appropriate person must apply to the Sheriff Court to be appointed executor.

After having three times unsuccessfully submitted documents to the Sheriff court for confirmation and the court being unable to give advice due to the value of the estate, I had phoned a number solicitors looking for a fixed price to carry out the work but was only being given hourly rates it was then that I found the details for Wilson Fish online and contacted them. The process was done very fast and was sorted out quickly. Thank you for your assistance.

Request a Callback from our Specialist Executry Administration & Probate Lawyers Glasgow, Scotland

For first-class legal guidance on Confirmation and Winding up an Estate, arrange a call back with one of your expert executry solicitors in Glasgow.

Featured FAQs

While there are many questions people have at this time, there are some that we are asked time and again. Find the answers to these common questions are below.

What costs are involved in administering an estate?

The costs involved in administering an estate will depend on the complexity of the estate and the services that you require.

Generally, a solicitor will charge an hourly rate for their services, as well as a fee for any court forms that need to be completed. The fees can range from several hundred pounds to thousands of pounds, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. To find out more, please get in touch.

How do I obtain confirmation to wind up an estate in Scotland?

To obtain confirmation to wind up an estate in Scotland, you will need to apply for a Grant of Confirmation from the Sheriff Court.

This is a legal document that confirms the executor’s authority to administer the estate. The application must be accompanied by a copy of the death certificate and other documents such as bank statements and title deeds. The application must also be signed by all of the beneficiaries of the estate. Once this is done, it can take up to 8 weeks for the Grant to be issued.

I've been appointed executor - what do I do?

If you have been appointed as executor of an estate, it is your responsibility to ensure that the estate is administered in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.

This includes collecting and valuing all of the assets, paying any outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. You will also need to complete any necessary tax returns, apply for a Grant of Confirmation (if required), and keep detailed records of all transactions. It is important to seek legal advice if you are unsure about any aspect of your role as executor.

What do you need to do when someone dies in Scotland?

When someone dies in Scotland, there are a number of steps that need to be taken.

These include registering the death, arranging a funeral, and dealing with the deceased’s estate. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, you may also need to apply for a Grant of Confirmation and seek legal advice.

Is Confirmation different from Probate?


Probate is a legal process that verifies the validity of a will, while Confirmation is a process that is used in Scotland to obtain the right to administer an estate.

Do I need to use the solicitor who holds the Will to wind up an estate?


You are not required to use the solicitor who holds the Will to wind up an estate. However, it is usually a good idea to use a solicitor who is familiar with the deceased’s estate and can advise you on any legal issues that may arise.

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