How Can I Find Out if Probate Is Needed?

13 October 2017

When someone dies, it may be necessary to go through a legal process called Probate. However, Probate isn’t always required after a death. So how do you find out quickly?

What Does Probate Depend On?

It all depends on what assets the deceased person owned, and whether he/she owned them in their sole name. This is explained in greater detail below.

When is Probate Needed in England or Wales?

Probate will usually be needed if:

  • Everything the deceased person owned (known as their Estate) is worth more than £15,000
  • The deceased owned assets in their sole name.

So when working out whether Probate is required or not, you’ll need to find out what the deceased person owned, and how much these assets are worth. You’ll also need to find out how these assets were held – in the deceased person’s sole name, or in joint names with someone else who is still alive.

What Assets did the Deceased Own?

If the deceased person owned very little, it’s unlikely that Probate will be needed. This is known as having a Small Estate. However, it’s difficult to say exactly what constitutes a Small Estate, as there is no set limit.

It used to be that if the total value of the deceased person’s Estate amounted to £5,000 or less, Probate would not be needed. Now the general benchmark for Probate is £15,000 but every bank and financial institution has their own limit and their own approach to Probate. Some have kept the threshold for Probate at £5,000, while others have raised it to £50,000.

To make matters more complicated, some banks and financial institutions will say that if the overall value of the deceased person’s Estate is (for example) £15,000, Probate is required. Others will say that Probate is only needed if there is £15,000 in the individual account.

So you’ll need to confirm with the organisations holding the deceased person’s assets as to what ‘their’ threshold for Probate is. This will determine whether or not Probate is needed.

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*.

*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate has sufficient financial assets which can be sold in due course.

Were Assets Held in Joint Names?

Assets held in joint names can be held as Joint Tenants __or __Tenants in Common.

If assets are held in joint names as Joint Tenants with someone else, it’s likely that Probate won’t be necessary, regardless of the value.

That’s because if assets are held as Joint Tenants with someone else who is still alive, they will automatically pass to the surviving owner. So if your husband has died and you owned a property together as Joint Tenants, the property will transfer into your name. You don’t need Probate for this to happen.

However, if you owned a property with your husband as Tenants in Common, his share of the property will not automatically transfer into your name on his death. Instead, it will pass to whoever is legally entitled to inherit under his Will, or by the Rules of Intestacy.

If someone dies who owned a property in their sole name, you’ll need to go through the Probate process in order to sell the property, or transfer it into someone else’s name.

Confused about Probate?

The question of whether or not Probate is needed can be a confusing one.

Sometimes it will be easy to determine – for instance, if the deceased person had a small amount of money in the bank and owned nothing else, Probate won’t be necessary. But if the deceased owned a property in their sole name, or had multiple high value assets, Probate will be required.

For many people who are dealing with the death of a loved one, further advice, guidance and support is needed, and we make it very easy to find out for certain whether or not Probate is needed in your circumstances.

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