Can I Avoid Probate?
07 September 2017
If a loved one has died and you’ve been told that Probate is needed, you might be wondering if there’s any way that Probate can be avoided.
The short answer is that if your loved one has already died and their Estate is worth more than the Probate threshold, it won’t be possible to avoid Probate.
But if you are not yet at the point of Probate and you are instead making plans for the future, you may be able to use Estate Planning to potentially prevent your loved ones from having to go through the Probate process. See Estate Planning below.
The Probate Threshold in England & Wales
If the first situation applies in that your loved one has recently passed away, the next question is likely to be what is the Probate threshold? This is a difficult question to answer because it depends entirely on the different banks and financial institutions that are holding your loved one’s money.
Every bank and financial institution has their own threshold for Probate. In previous years this was set very low, typically at £5,000. But most banks and financial institutions have now raised their threshold, which has made it easier for the relatives of the deceased to avoid the Probate process.
Now the threshold for Probate is usually somewhere between £5,000 and £50,000. However, what makes things more complicated is that different banks and financial institutions approach the threshold differently: some base it on the entire value of the Estate, while others base it on the amount held with their organisation.
Therefore you’ll need to calculate the value of your loved one’s Estate (meaning everything he/she owned). You’ll then need to contact each bank and financial institution that is holding their money or assets and ask what their threshold for Probate is. This will determine if you need to go through the Probate process.
With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.
We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate has sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.
When Probate is Needed
If you’re advised that Probate is needed, you won’t be able to access you’re loved ones money until you’ve got a Grant of Representation. You do this by applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there is no Will).
If you’re told that Probate is not needed, you will be able to close the deceased person’s bank accounts without having to make an application to the Probate Registry. However, you’ll normally need to show the bank or financial institution a copy of the death certificate and your personal identification.
You may be looking ahead and wondering how you can make things easier for your loved ones when you pass away. As part of this, you might want to know whether there’s anything you can do to prevent your friends or family members from having to go through the Probate process.
There are various things you can do to reduce the value of your Estate, which may bring it below the Probate threshold. This includes creating Trusts or making gifts during your lifetime. For more information see Co-op Estate Planning.