Is probate needed to deal with a will trust?

04 November 2019

Whether or not probate is needed on an estate depends on the value of the deceased person's assets and how they owned these assets. Whether any of these assets form part of a will trust has no bearing on the need for probate. In this article, we explain how to tell if probate is needed, and how the presence of a will trust can affect the probate process.

When is probate needed?

The term 'probate' refers to the process in obtaining a legal document which is sometimes needed in order to deal with the assets in a deceased person's estate. This document is commonly called the grant of probate, and it names one or more people who have the legal authority to represent the person who has died in relation to their financial affairs. This might include selling their house, for example, closing their bank accounts, settling their outstanding debts and distributing the rest of their estate to those entitled to inherit it.

The people named on the grant of probate are called the personal representatives of the estate. In the deceased's will, they will usually have named one or more executors to act as the personal representatives. The executors are entitled to apply for the grant of probate and carry out the probate work. If the deceased died without a will, the personal representatives will normally be their next of kin.

A grant of probate isn't always needed to deal with a deceased person's assets. This is because some assets can be sold or transferred without the need for this document, and banks will usually release small amounts of money without requesting a grant of probate. Each bank has their own threshold, which can range anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000. For more information, see bank limits for probate.

If the deceased owned a property in their sole name or they had savings in the bank that exceed the bank's probate threshold, then a grant of probate will normally be needed to deal with these assets. If you're unsure of whether or not probate is needed on an estate, take our short probate questionnaire to find out.

How does a will trust affect probate?

If a will includes a will trust that needs to be dealt with as part of the probate process, this can complicate the Probate process. The knock-on effect of this is that, in some cases, it may take longer and/or be more expensive to administer an estate that includes a will trust.

The executor of the estate will be responsible for setting up the will trust during the estate administration. Once the trust has been set up, however, the management of the trust then falls to the trustees. The executors and the trustees may be the same people, or they may be different people. These are two very different roles though with different responsibilities. For more information on the role of the trustee, see what does a trustee do in probate?

The will trust needs to be set up properly as part of the probate process, and the work involved in this will be dependent on the contents and terms of the individual trust. It's a good idea to contact a probate solicitor if you are dealing with an estate containing a will trust, to ensure that everything is done correctly.

There are a number of different types of will trust that can exist. The most common types of will trust that our probate specialists deal with include:

Contact our probate specialists for help and guidance on dealing with a will trust during probate. At Co-op Legal Services, we offer transparent, upfront, fixed-fee pricing so that you always know exactly where you stand. We will provide you with a fixed fee quote before any work begins, and this quote will take the trust into account. Once we have provided you with a written quote that quote will not change (unless the information provided is incorrect or circumstances change).

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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