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Is Probate Required if There is a Will?

11th October 2017

The presence or absence of a legal Will has no bearing on whether or not Probate is required. This information applies in England and Wales.

If an Estate is valued above the Probate threshold, and the assets (everything he/she owned) were held in the deceased’s sole name, then Probate will be needed – even if he/she left a valid Will.

To find out if Probate is needed call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will tell you.

People often tell us that Probate is not needed on their loved one’s Estate because he/she left a Will. But actually this makes no difference. Probate may be needed on Estates where there is a Will, and Probate may be needed on Estates where there is no Will.

Whether Probate is required or not depends entirely on:

  1. The way in which assets were held, which will either be in joint names, or in the deceased person’s sole name
  2. The value of these assets.

The Way in Which Assets were Held

If someone has died and you’re trying to work out if Probate is needed, a good place to start is to make a detailed list of all the assets he/she owned. You then need to confirm if these assets were held in the deceased’s sole name, or in joint names with someone else.

Assets that are owned jointly can be held one of two ways: as joint tenants or tenants in common. Assets held as tenants in common will not pass by survivorship but will pass to whoever is legally able to inherit under the deceased’s Will or intestacy.

If any assets are held in joint names as Joint Tenants with someone who is still alive, the asset will automatically pass to the co-owner under the Right of Survivorship. If this applies to all the deceased’s assets, Probate will not be required.

But if any assets are held in the deceased person’s sole name, you need to find out how much that particular asset is worth. If it’s over the Probate threshold (explained below) then Probate will be needed in order to access and/or transfer it.

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*.

The Value of the Assets

Even if the deceased person owned an asset in their sole name, Probate may not be needed if it is worth very little. That’s because most banks and financial institutions will release funds if the deceased held or owned less than £5,000. However, each bank has its own minimum Probate threshold and it’s worth checking the position with them.

Where the deceased held assets in their sole name but they are of little value, it’s called having a small Estate. It’s hard to put an exact figure on what constitutes a small Estate, as every bank and financial institution has their own limit. But generally if the total value of the Estate is less than £15,000 then usually Probate will not be required.

But if the deceased owned assets worth more than the threshold, you’ll need to go through the Probate process. So if the person who died owned a property in his/her sole name, you can be certain that Probate will be needed.

If There is a Valid Will

It doesn’t matter if there’s a legally valid Will. This has no impact on whether or not Probate is required. Probate is not exclusively for Estates where the person died Intestate (meaning without a Will). Instead, Probate is required for all Estates where assets are above a certain value, and are not being automatically transferred to a surviving joint owner.

However, you do need find out if there’s a Will, as this will influence certain things. For example, if there’s a Will it will name Executors. These people must apply for a Grant of Probate, if necessary. The Estate will eventually be distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

If there isn’t a Will, the law in England and Wales will determine who the beneficiaries are. If Probate is needed, one of these people must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, rather than a Grant of Probate.

If your loved one has passed away and you’re struggling to understand whether or not Probate is needed, our award winning Probate team can help you.

For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.

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

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