Do I need probate in the UK?SmartWill
A grant of probate is the formal legal permission for an executor to administer the estate of a deceased person.
Theoretically, everyone needs to have permission to deal with estate matters however in practice there are some exceptions.
What is probate?
There are really two answers to this question and it depends upon whether the deceased left a Will or not.
If they did leave a Will then the executor (who will be named in the document) needs to apply for a grant of probate.
The grant of probate gives the executor the control of the estate and they can then carry out the administration and the instructions in the Will.
If the deceased didn’t leave a Will then a member of their family or a close friend will need to apply for ‘Letters of Administration’.
Often when people are speaking about probate they will include both of these situations.
Although the most common reason for applying for letters of administration is that there is no Will in existence, there are other situations where this route is used.
If a Will was made but it was destroyed, or if it is invalid then letters of administration will be needed.
Similarly, if the executors are unable or unwilling to act then this method should be chosen.
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Who can apply for Letters of Administration?
When a Will is in existence then those who are named as executors will apply for probate but when there is no Will naturally the situation will be different.
There is an order in which people should apply depending upon their relationship to the deceased.
You should apply if you are the next of kin in this order;
- you are the married partner or civil partner of the person who has died
- you are the child of the person who has died
- you are the grandchild of the person who has died
- you are the parent of the person who has died
- you are the brother or sister of the person who has died
- you are the nephew or niece of the person who has died
- you are another relative of the person who has died.
Do you always need probate?
Although in many cases probate will be required this is not always the case.
You may not need probate if;
- There is no property in the estate and it consists purely of a small amount of cash and personal possessions.
- Where any property in the estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants this will pass automatically to the survivor.
- If the person concerned has a joint account the remaining balance will pass to the surviving account holder.
- Where the only assets are a life insurance or pension policy that have a named beneficiary.
- Or where the estate is insolvent and there isn’t enough money to pay and debts and taxes due.
Often banks or building societies require sight of a grant of probate or letters of administration to allow someone to deal with the accounts however every bank has a different policy so accounts with balances under £5,000 to £10,000 may not need the documentation.
We would always suggest getting experienced help with your own situation and should you need assistance then our experts are always on hand to assist.