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If you father-in-law's estate was a small one with a total value of less than £5, 000.00 with such money being held simply in bank accounts then you would not require a grant of probate.
If his estate is larger than that then you would need to obtain a grant of probate in his estate. The issue really is whether you wish to attempt to obtain the grant acting on your own or whether you should instruct a solicitor. If your father in law's estate is complicated and involves shares or interests in businesses then it can be quite time consuming and the tax side of it can be quite daunting to lay persons. In these cases most people choose to instruct a solicitor to do the leg work of the administration of the deceased's estate.
If however the estate is simple (eg. bank accounts, property ) then provided you are prepared to put in the time you can do it yourself and save yourself the legal fees.
Information on apply for a grant yourself on the following Direct Gov and HMCS websites:-
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