Do executors have to apply for a Grant of Probate?Smart Will
As an executor do I need to apply for a Grant of Probate?
When someone passes on, the executor is left to carry out their wishes in the form of their Will and one of the documents often needed to do this is a grant of probate.
A grant of probate is a legal document that confirms the right of the executor to administer the estate of the deceased and can be used as proof of this right with banks, building societies and other institutions.
But a grant of probate isn’t always needed and sometimes it can be confusing as to whether the executor actually needs to apply or not.
In general terms, a grant of probate is not needed for very small and simple estates.
The rule of thumb is when there is a total of less than £5,000 of value, and when this is in cash or personal effects then the executor should have no problems and can administer the Will with no problems.
If the deceased had a substantial pension or life assurance then it is possible that they signed a document stating who the beneficiary should be and, in this case, probate would not be needed.
In the case of property, where a house is owned between a couple as beneficial joint tenants then the property will automatically pass to the other tenant.
Similarly, if a couple has a joint bank account then the money will again, automatically pass to the surviving partner.
However once substantial assets are held in banks or building societies in single names or there are savings held in premium bonds or other government products of over £5,000 then probate will be required.
When is probate required?
There are some key times when it is clear that a grant of probate will be required such as when:
- Property is held in a single name
- Insurance policies and pension products exist without a living beneficiary
- Shares and investment products are held in a sole name
- The deceased owns land or property jointly as tenants in common
- When bank or building society savings breach the individual institutions’ limit.
- National savings products over £5,000
Banks and building societies
Financial institutions have wide latitude when it comes to allowing an executor to administer accounts on behalf of the estate.
Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to know whether a grant of probate is required or not as each individual situation is different.
For example, one bank may require a grant of probate for anything over £5,000 whilst another might be happy to allow the executor to deal with values of as much as £30,000 without probate being granted.
In summary, then, the simple fact is that it is not always clear when probate is required.
For very small estates, where the assets are cash and personal effects then probate probably wouldn’t be needed.
In the case of larger estates, the executor will have some work to do and it is usually best to ring round the institutions in question and ask them what their policy is.
Once you have a clear sight of whether the individual institutions are happy to deal with you then you can decide whether to go through the process of applying for a grant of probate.
Smart Will have experts who are able to provide help and advice on all aspects of executorship and probate. If you need assistance then please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our probate calculator on our online Will writing application below.