Do All Wills Go to Probate?

11 March 2016

No, not all Wills go to Probate and in fact even if there is no Will, some Estates will still need to go through the Probate process.

The word Probate comes from the Latin word 'probare' which means to test or prove – therefore Probate is proving that the Will is valid and confirming the Executor's authority to administer the Estate of the person who died.

How Do I Know if Probate is Needed?

The factors that decide whether an Estate goes through Probate are usually the value of the Estate and in addition, whether there are assets such as a property or land. In some circumstances though, Probate might not be required even if there are assets such as a property. Some of these circumstances are:

  • If the only assets are in cash and belongings such as jewellery or a car
  • The property is owned as joint tenants. If the property is owned as joint tenants, the property automatically belongs to the surviving joint owner.
  • All of the other assets were owned jointly, usually with a spouse or civil partner and/or there were joint bank accounts. The joint owner has the legal right to these funds without Probate.
  • If the Estate is low value. Financial institutions each set their own limits for Probate, with some as low as £5,000 and some as high as £50,000. You can ask the bank or building society where the account is held about their particular limits.
  • If the Estate does not have enough assets to pay off its debts – it is insolvent. Please note, there can be some legal issues when dealing with an insolvent Estate that could expose you to personal liability for any mistakes made. You should consider asking a Probate specialist to manage this process for you.

You can see there are quite a few situations where Probate is not required. Therefore if there is an Executor named in the Will and no Probate is required, the Executor can continue on with administering the Estate, apart from if it is insolvent, where it is advisable to take advice from a Probate specialist.

If there is no Will, you may have to apply to the Court for a Grant of Representation to administer the Estate. The Estate is then distributed according to the rules of Intestacy (the term used for dying without leaving a Will). For more information see Rules of Intestacy explained.

What Do I Do if I Need to Get Probate?

If you discover that the Will in which you are named as an Executor needs Probate, you should decide between you and the other Executors whether you want to complete Probate yourselves or whether you would like someone to manage the process for you. Probate can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking anywhere between 6 to 12 months, with significant amounts of paperwork to collect, complete and process.

This prospect can create a significant amount of stress and worry however, our Probate Complete Service can take away these worries from you immediately.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.

Why Choose Co-op Legal Services?

There are a number of good reasons to ask Co-op Legal Services to manage the complete Probate process for you. This first is that it takes away the stress of managing the administration of an Estate from you at this upsetting time and allows you time to focus on the important things such as your family. Our Probate Solicitors and specialists help individuals and families in England and Wales to manage Probate for Estates worth more than £500 million each year and we are one of the most trusted and experienced Probate providers.

Secondly, we offer free initial advice and guidance by phone with a Probate Advisor, who will provide practical tips and advice and if suitable, book an in-home meeting with one of our Probate Consultants to discuss the Probate process in more detail and provide a detailed quotation tailored for your particular circumstances.

Once you have decided to go ahead with our Probate Complete service, you will be allocated a designated Probate Case Handler who will contact you after reviewing the paperwork to agree how to communicate with you and update you, depending on your needs and requirements. You will be given their name, email address and direct dial telephone number so you can get in touch whenever you need to.

Lastly, with our Complete Probate Service, we handle everything on your behalf from start to finish so you needn't worry. The Probate fees will usually be taken directly out of the Estate funds so there is no need to pay any fees up front (although a deposit may be required in some circumstances) and we can even arrange to pay for the funeral direct with Co-op Funeralcare if you arrange the funeral with them. This can take away the worry of paying Probate costs.

Co-op Legal Services offer a fixed fee quotation and unlike some other high street law firms and banks, does not charge an hourly rate fee nor do we take a percentage of the Estate's total value.

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