Do I need probate?

Determining if probate is required may not be straightforward or clear.

The easiest way to find out is to contact our probate advisors on 0330 606 9584 or contact us online and we will help you. Alternatively, you can use our online probate questionnaire for people in England and Wales.

You do not have to pay a percentage of the total value of the Estate when you use our Probate Complete Service. This could save you thousands of pounds.

Brian and Sky share their experience using Co-op Legal Services for Probate Estate Administration

We were contacted by Sky whose father, Mervyn, had recently died. He had left a complex Will so Sky knew she would be unable to administer the Estate herself.

Watch the video or read how we helped Brian and Sky.

How can I find out if probate is needed?

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?

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.

Every bank and financial institution has their own limit and their own approach to probate. Some have a threshold for probate of £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.

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, for example, 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 is unlikely to be needed. 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 our probate specialists can help you to find out for certain whether or not probate is needed in your circumstances.

Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate administration services in England and Wales, and is trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.