Do you really need Probate?
Probate is the process where you apply to the court for a document to allow you to deal with a deceased’s estate.
A Grant of Probate is a legal document which gives the person named in the Will the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s property. The person named in the Will is called the Executor and once the Grant of Probate is obtained they are responsible for dividing up the deceased’s property and belongings in accordance with the Will.
If the deceased did not leave a Will the document needed to deal with the estate is called the Grant of Letters of Administration and the person appointed (from a list of family members) is called the Administrator.
Both the Grant of Probate and the Letters of Administration are issued by a branch of the court called the Probate Registry.
But it is not always necessary to get a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration when someone dies. It depends on a number of things - like the value and the nature of the assets and how they are owned. If the total value of the estate is small (less than £5,000) and there is no property, land or trusts at play then it is unlikely that a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration will be needed.
Some assets pass automatically to a surviving co-owner – like the value in joint bank accounts and property held in joint names. These types of assets will pass to the surviving joint owner by a process called Survivorship, so it may not be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in these cases either.
Where the value of an estate exceeds the minimum threshold and/or land or property are involved, a Grant of Probate should be taken out. If it is not, then the deceased’s assets cannot be accessed or transferred to any of the beneficiaries. The process requires the completion of an Inheritance Tax Return and a Statement of Truth which are then submitted to HMRC and the Probate Registry respectively.
If you are not sure whether or not a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration is needed, please get in touch – we’re here to help. The process might seem daunting if you’re new to it – if you find yourself having to face this and need any assistance please give us a call on 01228 552222.