When is probate required after a death?
Whether you need probate or not is often up to third parties such as banks, insurance companies etc. Many people get it wrong and end up doing twice as much work because they hadn't read our article. So if you are thinking of doing it yourself, read on. Incidentally we're often asked if probate is required when husband or wife has died, and the answer is still maybe. There is no specific diffence if you are married, or have a Will, though legal husbands or wives do potentially have automatic rights to some of the estate if there is not valid will, but that is another topic entirely.
We’re happy to have a chat, but we can only give general guidance, not a definitive confirmation – but often it is obvious to us! 03 300 102 300. Do I need probate is often a complex question with sometimes an unexpected answer.
Generally speaking, anyone leaving assets worth less than £5,000 is unlikely to require a grant. But remember that gifts (or loans not repaid) made in the previous 7 years – and sometimes 14 years – are taken into account. Failing to apply for probate where Inheritance Tax might have been due could result in serious and personal financial penalties. So be wary!
If probate is required, the person dealing with it will always require the date of death value of everything at the date of death. So that will include (for example) any interest earned up until that date, so always ask for that in writing, and retain it just in case something forces you to apply for probate.
If they won’t agree to the transfer, then you need probate – and that means you need probate for EVERYTHING, not just the “awkward” asset.
Some assets always require probate – a property in a single name, or as tenants in common where individuals own shares of the home for example. Property or assets held as “joint tenants” generally pass semi-automatically to the surviving joint owners. But:
Fraud is often committed when “joint” accounts are claimed by the survivor when they actually had no right to the asset. This is a touchy area – if something is genuinely jointly owned fine (but see above) but where the money effectively belongs solely to one person – have a care!
Other common assets where a grant of probate is generally required:
- Life insurance policies not written in trust.
- Some pension benefits.
- Business assets
- Agricultural assets.
An approximate maximum certain institutions will at least consider paying out without requiring a grant of probate. There is no guarantee that anyone will release a penny without a grant of probate or letters of administration. These limits do change, so if any are out of date, please do let us know.
Bank of Ireland £10,000
Bank of Scotland £25,000
Birmingham Midshires £25,000
Cheltenham & Gloucester £25,000
Co-op Bank £30,000
First Direct £20,000
HSBC Decided on a case-by-case basis
Lloyds TSB £50,000
M&S Money £15,000.
NS&I (National Savings / Premium Bonds) – £5,000 to £15,000
Post Office £10,000
Royal Bank of Scotland £25,000
Sainsbury’s Bank £20,000.
Skipton Building Society £15,000
Tesco Bank £25,000
Yorkshire Building Society £30,000
Trusts are another issue – they don’t necessarily of themselves require probate, but they may well mean that an IHT400 form needs to be completed. Trusts in the Will mean you would be wise to take legal advice – which is where we come in – we can introduce you to a firm with suitable expertise at relatively reasonable fees.
Do I need probate is often not a simple question!