When do you need a grant of probate, and when can you administer the estate without it? Do you need probate if you have a will? Find out whether you need probate here – or call us on 0800 054 9896 to speak to our probate team.

A grant of probate is a document that states that you are legally allowed to settle the estate of someone who has died. Once you’ve received it – or, if there is no will, a letter of administration – you’ll be able to access and close their bank accounts, give funds and property to whoever is set to inherit and pay off any outstanding tax and debts.

A grant of probate is not always required: if the total value of the estate is small, or accounts, property and assets were owned jointly, you can potentially settle the estate without one.


When do you need probate?

So, when is probate required? The simple answer is that a grant of probate is needed in most cases, especially when land or property is involved, but it’s always worth taking a little more time to find out for certain.

Do I need probate? A quick checklist:

When you’re trying to find out if you need probate, it can help to make a list of what was owned in the name of the person who has died. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Did they have a bank account solely in their name, and how much is in it? Most banks will release all funds without a grant of probate if there is less than £5,000 in an account, and some will release up to £25,000 – the amount varies depending on the bank. You’ll need a grant of probate before you can access any money beyond the bank’s stated threshold.
  • Did they own property? If the person who died was the only named tenant on their mortgage, you will require a grant of probate before you can claim, transfer or sell the property. You’ll also need to consider what the property is worth, and whether there’s an outstanding balance on the mortgage.
  • Did they hold stocks and shares? Much like banks, registrars usually have a maximum threshold on the value of stocks and shares that can be accessed without a grant of probate. This can be up to £10,000.

Most financial institutions will ask for a grant of probate before they release funds or stocks over a certain amount or value, and this amount will vary depending on the bank or company. You’ll need to do your research to find out if probate is required to access those assets.

Jointly owned assets, like a joint bank account or a mortgage with multiple tenants, work slightly differently, and may not be subject to probate in the same way. More on this below.


When is probate not required?

You might not need a grant of probate if:

  • The person who’s died held all their assets jointly with someone else, like a spouse. For example, if they had a joint bank account and were beneficial joint tenants of a property. In these cases, ownership will pass to the other owner.
  • The estate is small. If all of the assets held by the person who has died are worth less than £5,000 – a situation known as a Small Estate – then you may not need a grant of probate to gain access to them. This usually happens in cases where no land, property or shares are in the estate.
  • The estate is insolvent. This is when the debts, taxes and expenses owed by the estate are greater than the amount actually in it.

In cases where a grant of probate is not required, you will usually still need to provide a copy of the death certificate (given to you when you register the death) and proof of your own identity to gain access to accounts and settle the estate.


Is probate required if there is a will?

The will makes a difference, but only to the kind of documentation you’ll need to apply for to legally settle the estate. If there is no will, you need to apply for a letter of administration rather than a grant of probate, and there are certain restrictions on who can do this. However, the rules around when probate is required are the same whether there’s a will or not.


Do you need probate help? Give us a call

Do you need probate, or just some friendly advice at this difficult time? Call us on 0800 054 9896 to find out about our fixed-fee probate services, or click here to ask for a call back.

Our expert team have helped thousands of families settle the estates of their loved ones. Prices start at just £695 – and with us, what you see is what you pay. No matter how complicated the estate turns out to be, you’ll be charged exactly what’s on the initial agreement. Give us a call today.


Next in our probate series >> Everything You Need to Know About Applying for Probate

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