When Does Probate Become a Requirement?
If you find yourself in a position where you have recently lost a family member or a friend, you might be thinking that you need to apply for probate. However, before you take this step you should check to see if it is required.
So What is Probate?
A legal process that you need to go through when you deal with an estate when someone passes away. Following an application, you will be given a document from the Courts which can be produced at the banks, the Land Registry and other organisations. Effectively, it grants you permission to collect assets and then distribute funds to beneficiaries. In some cases, probate might not be needed at all. In other circumstances, you might need a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration if there was no Will.
How Do you Know if You Need to Apply for Probate?
Around half of the deaths in the UK lead to an application for probate. To find out if you need to apply for probate there are two things that you can do:
1. Calculate the Value of the Estate
If the estate has a total value that is less than £10,000, then it is likely that you won’t need to submit an application for probate. This is down to the fact that banks are often happy to release funds of a smaller amount as well as assets without the need for a formal grant from the government.
There have been instances where banks and other organisations have been willing to provide access to as much as £50,000. So, if you have an inclination that the value is relatively low, you should speak to the companies involved to find out what their probate threshold is set at.
2. Determine Whether Assets are Jointly Owned
It is important for you to determine how assets held by the deceased are owned. Should the assets be jointly owned, which could include some property, bank accounts and savings, then these will be automatically passed across to the surviving partner. As a result, there will be no requirement to apply for probate in order to releases the assets but you will need the death certificate. Where property is concerned you will need to ascertain whether it is owned as joint tenants or tenants in common because if it is the latter then it might mean that you need to apply for probate.
Note that neither of the above are completely conclusive and the easiest way to find out if probate is required is to contact each of the organisations holding assets in the name of the deceased and ask them what their requirements will be to release those assets to you as the executor. Some assets will always require probate regardless of the value. A professional probate practitioner will be able to provide advice and guidance in this respect.