Do you have to go through Probate if you have a Will?

This is a question that we often get asked at Solomons Solicitors.

If you have a Will, surely you don’t have to go through the whole process of applying for Probate?

Unfortunately, it is not about whether the deceased left a Will, but about sorting out the assets such as money, property and pensions that are dealt with under the terms of the Will

The Grant of Probate gives the executors legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets and to distribute them in accordance with the Will, which reflects the wishes of the deceased.

If the deceased had an estate worth more than £15,000 then it’s almost certain a Grant of Probate will be required.

The three things which determine whether a Grant of Probate is required are:

  • The way assets were held, in the deceased sole name or joint names;
  • The nature of the assets (i.e. share holdings and real property usually require Grant of Probate to be sold); and
  • The value of the assets.

Once you know which assets were owned solely by the deceased, you need to work out how much they are worth. This is because if the value is greater than £5,000, (the level at which most banks are usually happy release funds without a Grant of Probate) then you will need a Grant of Probate to get hold of the asset and distribute it according to the Will.

Some small estates, where the value is less than £15,000 and the assets are held in the sole name of the deceased, may be administered without a Grant of Probate however, these are few and far between.  It’s difficult to define what constitutes a small Estate, as every bank and financial institution has their own threshold. But generally, if the total value of the Estate is less than £15,000, Probate will not usually be required.

Most estates where the assets are not automatically transferred to a surviving joint-owner will require a Grant of Probate.

Real property (such as the family home or rental property)

If the deceased owned their own home in their sole name you will require a Grant of Probate so that it can be sold or transferred to a beneficiary.

If the deceased’s home was owned with a surviving spouse (or other party) as joint tenants (as opposed to tenants-in-common), it will pass to them by survivorship.

Bank and Building Societies

As an example, if a bank account of the deceased had £5,000 in it, then the bank may not require to see a Grant of Probate. However, if an account had £25,000, a Grant of Probate is likely to be required. All institutions have their own rules and limits.

Stocks and Shares

Stocks and shares are another area where a Grant of Probate may be required before they can be transferred to the Executors or beneficiaries. If there are only a few shares that aren’t hugely valuable, the share registrar may not ask for a Grant of Probate.

Having a Will usually means that Executors have been named and the process of Probate is less complicated.

If there isn’t a valid Will, the law of England and Wales (Intestacy rules) will dictate who the beneficiaries will be and who may act as executor. Incidentally, this is why it’s important for everyone to have a Will, as it’s better if you decide who will get your assets and who will administer your estate, rather than relying on ancient laws which do not necessarily reflect modern day families (i.e. unmarried cohabitees are not automatically entitled to their partner’s estate).

If Probate is required, one of the people entitled to the estate under the law of intestacy, must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, rather than a Grant of Probate.

In Bournemouth and the surrounding area, around 95% of people who pass away have assets that take them over the Probate threshold.

If you are worried about whether or not a Grant of Probate is required, then we can easily put your mind at rest. All it takes is a simple phone call and we’ll gladly discuss this with you over the phone. Contact us on 01202 802 807 to speak with one of our Probate specialists.

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