Probate Questions: My mother died without a will do I need Probate?

Probate Questions: My mother died without a will do I need Probate?

Q: My mother died on 1/6/11 and not made a will, she had no property, owes nothing and has £2700 in bank account.

Can I still draw on this and maybe share with my brother and her grandchildren?

I have her bank card, no issues there, our mam, verbally required me to bank any monies for her and spend money for her daily needs, any help would be gratefully received and I can forward response to my brother, our mum had insurance policies for over a long period to cover any funeral cost.


A: I assume your mother was English or Welsh and died in England or Wales.

If her total assets were valued at under £5,000 then – in theory – a Grant of Probate is not required and the estate can be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy. Once that is done, the people benefiting (probably you and your brother unless your mother parents or husband are alive) can pass on the money as you wish (though their could be Inheritance Tax implications if you die within 7 years of the gift.)

Unfortunately, it is likely that the insurance policies would be part of her estate, which might well push it over the £5,000 limit above which a grant is required,

Whoever deals with the estate will be personally liable for any debts which come to light subsequently, so you need to check that she has not underpaid any tax or been overpaid any benefits – however unwittingly.

You have no legal right to access your mothers bank account with the bank card, and could find herself in trouble doing so.  When you approaches the bank and explain the situation it is not unlikely that they will insist on a Grant of Probate (actually, a Grant of Letters of Administration) being taken out.   They do this to protect themselves against claims that other parties could have been entitled to some of the money, and to shift any problems entirely onto the shoulders of the executors.

I attach a Guide to Probate and one to the Rules of Intestacy which I hope will be helpful.

We do offer a relatively low cost hand holding service if you need any further help – good luck!

Probate Questions:

My mother died without a will – do I need Probate?

Author: Stephen Pett

My job is to ensure that we have a great team of Legal Advisers available to look after our Estate Planning and Probate Clients. Wills, Power of Attorney, Probate, IHT Planning, Trusts, Business Succession Planning - legal planning to protect you and yours.