Is probate necessary? Find out for sure

One of the first questions asked when it comes to dealing with the deceased’s finances is what I need to do to find out for sure if probate is necessary.

It is often thought that probate is not required if:

1) There is a Will

2) There is no Inheritance tax to pay because the estate’s value is below £325000.

3) The Will is not being disputed – everyone is in agreement on how the estate is to be dealt with/divided. 

4) The Will is simple – it leaves everything to a surviving spouse or to immediate family.

But none of these assumptions are correct. It is actually the deceased’s assets in their sole name and their values that govern whether probate will be necessary or not.

Here are the things you need to establish to find our for sure if probate is necessary.

Is there a property or a share of a property in the decease’s sole name? If the answer is yes then for sure probate is required. It is the Land Registry that will insist on seeing a Grant of Probate or letters of Administration before any change of ownership can take place i.e. before a sale can be completed or a transfer of ownership by way of assent to a beneficiary (form AS1).

Is there is a large amount of cash or an investment in the sole name of the deceased with a financial institution such as a bank, building society, share portfolio, National Savings etc. then probate may be required before funds can be released. In practice, all financial institutions have thresholds – a notional amount place across their business.

These vary from institution to institution.  If the amount invested is below the threshold then the institution will release the funds usually on production of the Will, death certificate and identification for the executors. If the investment is above the threshold then they will require probate before funds are released.

Here is a list of some of the thresholds for probate. The list is not meant to be exhaustive.

Barclays-50k ; Lloyds-50k

TSB-25k                                                              Natwest-25k

Nationwide-50k                                                Santander-50k

HSBC-30k                                                            NS&I-15k

NS&I Premium bonds-5k                               Virgin-35k

Post Office-10k                                                  Tesco-25k

CoOp-30k                                                            Chelsea BS-30k

Yorkshire BS-30k                                             Leeds BS-40k

West Bromwich BS-15k                                  Halifax BS-50k

Hargreaves Lansdown-35k                           RBS-25k

To find out for sure if probate is necessary contact the institution holding the funds to ask what their threshold for probate and whether they want probate in order to release them.

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