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Is a Grant of Probate always needed?

Published on 22 December 2019 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

When someone passes away, any assets left behind are known as a person’s Estate. The Estate includes any money, personal possessions or property owned by the deceased.

If the deceased left a valid Will, this will usually specify who they would like to deal with their Estate. This person is known as an Executor and they have the responsibility for obtaining Probate if it is required and using it to deal with the deceased’s assets. If there is no Will, then the next of kin will be appointed and will be known as the Administrator.

The Executor or Administrator may be unable to deal with the deceased assets until they have obtained a Grant of Probate.  This is an official legal document which gives permission for them to deal with the estate of the person who has passed away i.e. collect all the assets, pay all liabilities and debts of the estate and distribute the balance to the beneficiaries.

Whether a Grant of Probate is required or not depends on how the assets are held, which will either be in joint names, or in the deceased person’s sole name and the value of these assets.

A Grant of Probate will almost always be needed for the following assets;

  • Property (or land) held in their sole name or as ‘tenants in common’ with someone else
  • Most banks and building societies have thresholds where they may not release funds without a Grant of Probate. If there is £5,000 or more in any one bank or building society account it is likely a grant of probate will be needed – although banks and building societies have their own rules so this may vary.
  • Stocks or Shares
  • Certain insurance policies

You may not need a Grant of Probate if;

  • The Estate is less than £5,000
  • The deceased owned everything (including property, land, bank accounts) jointly with someone else, such as their spouse or civil partner, and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner.

If you are unsure as to whether you need a Grant of Probate or not, or have any questions about what happens when someone passes away then please feel free to contact our expert solicitors in our Wills and Probate team on 01270 625478. Alternatively you can visit our wills and probate services page here or complete the form linked here and we will call you back.

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