Probate is required after around 50% of deaths in the UK and may be needed whether there is a will or not.
Work out the value of the estate
The total value of the estate usually has to be more than £10,000 to be able to apply. If the amount is underneath this then banks are more willing to give smaller funds and assets without seeing a formal grant from the government. Some banks and organisations have been known not to accept until a release of up to £50,000 so if the estate is fairly small it is best to check with specific companies to see what their probate threshold is.
Are the assets jointly owned?
Another thing to find out would be whether the assets are jointly owned. If all of the assets are jointly owned then these would automatically pass to the surviving co-owner. You will not need to apply for probate to release these assets instead you would only need the death certificate. However, you may still need to apply for probate if the property was owned as tenants in common, or if there are other solely owned assets within the estate. These assets range from things like bank accounts, shares, pensions and life insurance policies.
When do I not need probate?
To summarise usually, you would need probate if an estate includes a flat or a house. However, there are terms which you may not be able to apply for it, these are:
- The estate is just made up of cash (that is, bank notes and coins) and personal possessions such as a car, furniture, and jewellery.
- All the property in the estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants, this property automatically becomes wholly owned by the other owner.
- You had a joint bank account.
- The amount of money is small.
- You discover that the estate is insolvent, that is, there is not enough money in the estate to pay all the debts, taxes and expenses.
- There are certain life insurance policies and pension benefits in the estate.