Here is a brief look at the Probate process, and when it is a legal requirement to get Probate...
An Executor will usually be specified in a Will. It will be their responsibility for administering the Estate of the deceased, including any property and money. The Executor(s) will be responsible for finding out whether they need to get Probate.
When Probate is needed for dealing with the deceased’s assets, it is a Grant of Probate that gives the Executor the legal authority to do so.
Here is a brief look at the Probate process, and when it is a legal requirement to get Probate.
What is Probate?
There are a lot of factors involved in administering the Estate of a deceased, and getting the Grant of Probate is usually one of them. Essentially, the Grant of Probate is a legal document that is required to gain permission to administer the Estate.
Once the Grant of Probate has been obtained then the Executor(s) will have authorisation to deal with all the deceased’s assets, along with any other elements required for the completion of the Probate process. This can range from paying any outstanding balance of Inheritance Tax, to selling off property or land – all of which needs to be carried out according to the terms of the Will.
When is Probate required?
A Grant of Probate is normally needed where the deceased’s Estate:
is over £15,000 or if their home needs to be sold or transferred to a beneficiary
is over £5,000 after the funeral costs have been paid
has any stocks, shares, property or land included within the Estate.
There are certain circumstances where a Grant may still be needed even if the Estate is valued at less than £5,000. Banks, building societies or other financial institutions that hold accounts or investments for a deceased, can impose their own discretionary limits that dictate whether they require a Grant of Probate.
When is Probate not required?
If the total value of an Estate is less than £5,000 then it is be considered a small Estate – meaning a Grant of Probate won’t always be required. This is due to the fact that certain assets and up to £5,000 in cash can usually be transferred legally, without the need to go through the Probate process.
If the Estate includes property, then Probate is generally necessary to legally transfer or sell it – unless it was owned as a joint Tenancy, and the co-owner is still alive. If this is the case, it will automatically pass to the survivor, and a copy of the death certificate would need to be registered on the property title.
Financial institutions are likely to have different limits that could negate the need for a Grant – and they may agree to accept signed indemnities instead when releasing assets. Limits can vary significantly from £5,000 up to £50,000.
If complications occur, perhaps due to a large number of beneficiaries, then these institutions are more likely to insist on Probate to release any assets.
It is worth remembering…
Without a legally valid Will no one would be specifically selected to become the administrator of the Estate. In these cases, usually any next of kin will have to get a Grant of Letters of Administration.
Probate could also potentially be avoided when assets are placed outside of the Estate into Trusts, ensuring that they’re controlled by trustees and paid directly to a beneficiary.
Even if it seems like a Grant may not be needed, in certain situations it may still be beneficial to obtain one. This is especially true where the assets are high in value, as this can not only protect any Executors, but also ensure that the Estate is being distributed correctly.