20th SEPTEMBER 2021
The necessity for probate depends on the size of the deceased’s estate, not the presence of a Will. This means that probate might be required for an estate whether there is a Will or not.
When is probate required?
Probate is only required after around 50% of all deaths in the UK. Generally, it is required for larger, more complex estates that contain solely owned property and bank accounts. If your loved one’s estate is valued at less than £5,000, it is likely that probate is not needed.
Financial institutions such as banks have varying thresholds for how much money they can release from a deceased person’s account without needing to see a grant of probate. This threshold tends to lie somewhere between £5,000 and £50,000. It is worth contacting the organisations to figure out what their threshold is before you decide whether you need to apply for probate or not.
If the property included in your loved one’s estate was owned with a joint tenant such as a spouse, it will automatically be passed on to the surviving owner and probate will not be necessary.
How does probate work if there is a Will?
When someone writes a Will, they are encouraged to name an executor who will be tasked with handling probate after their death. Usually, this is a close loved one or a trained solicitor.
If you have been named the executor of someone’s estate, then you will be eligible to apply for a grant of probate following their death. The first step to applying for probate is submitting your application to the probate registry. In cases where there is a Will, this form is titled PA1P. You will also need to fill out an inheritance tax form regardless of whether inheritance tax is due or not.
Once your application has been approved, you will be sent your grant of probate by post. This allows you to deal with the estate, which can involve gathering funds, closing bank accounts, paying outstanding debts, selling or transferring property, and many more tasks depending on the size and contents of the estate.
How does probate work if there is no Will?
If there is no Will, there is no executor named to deal with the estate. Usually, the person who stands to inherit most of the deceased’s estate according to the Rules of Intestacy is responsible for handling probate. This person is known as the administrator of the estate.
The process of applying for probate and handling an estate is very similar whether there is a Will or not. The main difference occurs during the application process.
When there is no Will, the administrator will need to apply for a grant of letters of administration from the probate registry instead of a grant of probate. The form that you will need to fill in for a grant of letters of administration is known as PA1A. You will also need to submit an inheritance tax form.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive your grant of letters of administration by post and you are free to handle the estate in the same way as an executor would with a grant of probate. The only difference after this point is that instead of distributing the deceased’s assets according to the Will, you will be distributing it according to the Rules of Intestacy.