Do I need Probate – Small Estate Left to Charity?
DL: I am the executor of my recently deceased aunt and would like to know if I require probate. The total assets of the estate appear to be less than £10,000 with no property involved. Her will leaves everything to charity.
You May – or May Not – Need Probate!
Whether you need probate or not depends on the type of asset and who hold it. Not having a property makes it easier. We have emailed you our general guide as to whether or not probate is needed which is a little more detailed. (Which is available to readers by email only.)
We can deal with this sort of estate quite cheaply of you wish, or you could use our DIY Probate service and recover the cost from the estate – should probate be needed of course! We can do it anyway, but you may not need to spend any money when it will probably be very simple.
Essentially if you contact all of the asset holders and ask what there requirements are, you will soon find out if a grant is needed. If not, you can take the Will and death certificate in to everyone and get them to send a cheque direct to the Charity for the sake of simplicity, though you could collect the cash, recover your legitimate expenses and send an account of them and the change to the Charity – though they will undoubtedly argue about any significant personal expenses, where they would be quite happy if we had done the work for you and charged accordingly!
What assets will mean probate is required?
Be aware that the whole estate needs to be dealt with via an application for probate – if you deal with some assets but need probate for others you could be in serious trouble if you don’t record everything in the application for probate.
If there is more than £5,000 in a single account, there are no shares or ISAs, or investment bonds, then there is a fair chance you won’t need a grant.
Again, we could obviously do it for you if you wished.
What are the risks for the Executor?
You should always be aware that the executor can be personally liable if debts are undiscovered and unpaid or if beneficiaries appear after you have paid everything out, or decide to claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
There are ways to minimise these risks, which we can optionally put in place if you wish, but for the sake of your financial security, obtaining probate is an essential first step if you think there could be unknown debts or people who could claim to be supported by the deceased.
I haven’t included the full probate guide as you may well not need it – email back if you want it.
Hope that helps!