My father left a Will. Do I need to do probate?

Nigel Merchant, a Regional Probate Consultant at probate specialists Kings Court Trust, is always asked by potential customers:

“Why do I need to go through probate? My father left a Will – so we don’t need probate, do we?”

In answer to this question, Nigel says that most estates do need to go through probate: "It’s not a question of whether the deceased left a Will, but whether or not the assets dealt with by the Will are the sort of assets that require a Grant of Probate before they can be dealt with under the terms of the Will."

The purpose of a Will is to carry out the deceased’s wishes as to what will happen to their estate after death. 

The Grant of Probate is a document that allows ownership of the assets to be transferred from the deceased to the executors, so that they can give effect to the terms of the will.

Nigel outlines whether a Grant of Probate is required will depend on the assets of the deceased:

Did the deceased own assets in their name at the date of their death? 

If so, depending on the value and type of assets, you will need a Grant of Probate. 

A bank account is a good example. If the deceased held, for example, £50,000 in a bank or building society account, the bank/building society will need to be provided with a Grant of Probate before it will release money to the executors to deal with under the terms of the Will.

But if the deceased left a few bank and/or building society accounts, say with only a few thousand pounds in each, along with some personal possessions but nothing else, it is unlikely that the banks/building societies will need to see a Grant of Probate for modest amounts. 

Each bank and building society has its own limit but, generally, most institutions will let the amount of around £15,000 be given to executors without seeing a Grant of Probate. 

Did the deceased own stocks and shares?

If so, the registrar will need to be provided with a Grant of Probate before they will transfer the shares out of the deceased’s name into the names of the executors or beneficiaries.

But the registrar may not need to see a Grant of Probate if the deceased held just a few shares of a modest total value.

Did the deceased own their home in their own name? 

If so, you will need a Grant of Probate before it can be sold or transferred to a beneficiary.

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

What happens where there isn't a Will?

The basic rules of probate are the same, but the people who administer the estate are known as 'administrators' (instead of 'executors'). 

Administrators will apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration (instead of a Grant of Probate) and the distribution of the estate will take place according to the rules of intestacy.

This article has been reproduced from Kings Court Trust's website.
Kings Court Trust are specialists in probate and estate administration at a fixed price. They are authors of Lawpack's DIY Probate Kit and provide fixed-price Probate Assist Services.

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Published on: August 30, 2012

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