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Small Estates

What is a small estate?

A small estate is an estate where the total value of the deceased’s money and property is £36000 or less. A ‘large estate’ is an estate where the total value is above this. In calculating the total value, you should not deduct any debts, such as funeral expenses, gas or electricity bills, balance of mortgage, owed by the deceased. The values of bank accounts etc must also include interest to date of death.

If you would like help from the sheriff clerk, to apply for confirmation in a small estate, you should contact the sheriff clerk's office in the area where the deceased last resided. However, if that is not convenient for you, you can ask your local sheriff clerk to complete the inventory for you, even if the person who died lived in an area covered by a different sheriff court. You should contact the sheriff clerk’s office to make an appointment.

Before attending the appointment with the sheriff clerk, it would be helpful for you to complete the small estate checklist. This may help you to remember what to bring to court and will make sure that you have the information the sheriff clerk needs to complete the inventory.

Application forms for small estates can be accessed on the HMRC website.

You will need to complete the C1 form and the C5(SE)(2006) form.

For deaths on or after 1 January 2022, the C5(SE)(2006) form no longer requires to be completed.

Bonds of caution are required in some circumstances where the deceased did not leave a will. The bond of caution is an insurance against someone applying for confirmation when they are not entitled to do so and against an executor failing to distribute the estate according to law.

Where the estate is under the £36,000 limit and the sheriff clerk’s office assists in the preparation of the Inventory form then you will not need to obtain a bond of caution (as of 4 March 2016)

If a solicitor prepares the Inventory form, you will need to obtain a bond of caution before confirmation can be issued. Your solicitor will explain the procedure and costs involved in obtaining this document.

There is no statutory court fee for issuing confirmation in a small estate; however there are fees for copy, duplicate or certified extract confirmations (if required).

If there are several items of estate in the inventory, you can also ask for separate certificates of confirmation for specific items. The certificates have the same effect as the original confirmation but can save you time when collecting the estate.

The fees will depend on the number of certificates, copies etc. you need to provide for different banks, insurance companies etc. to allow them to release the funds. The current fees can be accessed in the Sheriff Court Fees section.

You should note that these fees do not include any fees you may need to pay if you have instructed a solicitor to help you. The solicitor can give you information on these costs.

You cannot apply for fee exemption when applying for confirmation in a small estate. Fees for certificates, copies etc. remain payable in all circumstances.

The Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service staff are not legally qualified and therefore cannot provide you with any legal advice. If you do need to get legal advice, the Law Society of Scotland can provide contact details for solicitors in your area.