Does every estate require probate?

Is probate required?

If you have been appointed as an executor of somebody’s Will, it doesn’t automatically give you the right to start dividing up their estate. There are strict rules that need to be followed to ensure everything is carried out legally and correctly.

Usually, a Grant of Probate is required, which can be issued quickly to the executor of the Will. The Grant of Probate is an official document that proves you have the authority to carry out any administrative tasks that may be required, such as closing accounts, selling property and distributing wealth. As executor, you can choose to do this yourself, or seek assistance from a Kent accountant for probate services. Having help can remove a lot of stress, particularly if the decedent was a close relative or friend.

Is probate always required?

Probate isn’t always necessary, but whether it is or not depends on the financial institutions you’re dealing with and the size of the estate. Some institutions will deem an estate ‘small’ if it is only worth up to £50,000, and will therefore release funds without requiring probate. Others, however, will only release funds of a value of up to £5,000. If you’re unsure about whether you’ll need a Grant of Probate, you can contact professionals such as Kent tax advisors for guidance.

What if there’s no Will?

If no Will has been left by the deceased, or their Will is not valid at the time of their death, then a Grant of Letters of Administration must be obtained in place of a Grant of Probate. There is a strict order in which the next-of-kin can apply for this.

In the first instance, the married partner or civil partner of the person who has died must be the one to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. If they are unable to do so, or there is no spouse or civil partner, a child of the deceased can apply. In the event that there are only surviving grandchildren, they can apply. After that, application rights pass to other members of the family.

What about property?

Probate is not always required to sell a property. Let’s assume a decedent has left a spouse behind, and they are listed as ‘joint tenants’ on their property. In this case, the property ownership transfers directly to the surviving spouse, meaning there’s no need to apply for probate.

If the deceased and their spouse were ‘tenants in common’, however, ownership does not pass immediately to the surviving spouse. Probate or letters of administration will be needed so that the deceased’s share of the property can be passed to whomever is named in their Will, or according to the rules of intestacy.

When else might probate of letters of administration not be necessary?

There are a few other instances in which there may not be a need for probate or letters of administration. If, for example, the deceased’s estate is made up solely of cash and personal possessions (bank notes, coins, a car, some jewellery) then neither of the above documents is required.

If you need help with obtaining probate or letters of administration, speak to a specialist today.

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