When is probate needed?
A grant of probate refers to the legal document needed by the executor, to prove their entitlement to deal with, collect in and finally distribute, a deceased person’s assets.
A grant of probate is usually needed when the person who has died left:
- Assets worth more than £5,000
- Stocks or shares
- A house or land
- Certain insurance policies
- Foreign property
Whilst the above five points represent the rule of thumb as to when a grant of probate is required, the questions that often provide the answer to whether probate is required are:
- The value of the estate as a whole and/or
- The value of the asset in question
Probate is usually not required if:
- The individual had few assets in their sole name, with the value of the estate not exceeding £5,000
- The individual who has died held all their assets jointly with another person. This is because where bank accounts and a house/land (held as jointly, as joint tenants) are held jointly and one joint holder dies, the assets pass automatically by “survivorship”, meaning no grant is required. However, if the individual owns a house/land as tenants in common, the other way for holding a property jointly, a grant of probate is required.
Whilst a grant of probate is not required in some instances, you may still need legal advice. You can see the type of support we can offer here.
You may also find that some financial organisations may require a grant before giving you access, even to only a small amount of money.
Banks, investment providers and financial institutions all have different policies as to the circumstances where they require a grant of probate. Some high street banks now close deceased’s accounts where the balance does not exceed £50,000 without a grant of probate. Other banks have a more cautious approach with a limit of £25,000.
A grant of probate is not needed where bank account balances below these thresholds represent the only assets in the estate. If there are other assets in the estate that require probate, it is vitally important that these accounts are not closed without the bank having sight of probate
The process of applying for, and obtaining, a grant of probate is not only time consuming, but it can be complicated and draining, particularly at what can be an extremely difficult time. Our experience and qualified staff at GA Solicitors will ensure that any complicated procedures are explained in simple terms and without jargon and all work undertaken professionally.
Catherine Bailey, partner and wills, trust and probate solicitor