Do I Need Probate, Even If There’s a Will?

When is Probate Required?

Probate is the legal right to deal with somebody’s estate – property money and possessions – when they die. And it’s likely that, even if there’s a Will, you’ll have to apply for Probate to be able to share out the estate of the person who has died in a legal manner, and according to the instructions in the Will. As with most legal issues, however, Probate is not always straightforward, and rules tend to change depending on the size of the estate and other factors. So, let’s delve further into this issue and find out when a Grant of Probate is required.

When is a Grant of Probate Needed?

If the legal title to land or property is held in a person’s sole name or as tenants in common, then a Grant of Probate will always be required before the asset can be sold or transferred. Assets such as shareholdings will often also require Probate, unless the Registrar is provided with a sufficient indemnity by the Personal Representatives in the case of small estates.

Probate also depends on how assets are held. If someone holds assets jointly with another person, ownership of the asset will automatically pass to the surviving owner, regardless of whether a Will is in the picture or not. Examples of this kind of setup include property held as joint tenants and joint bank accounts.

However, if a property is held jointly with another person but as tenants in common, then each individual has their own distinctive shares in the property. This means that when one owner dies, their share will not automatically pass to the surviving owner. Instead, Probate will be required to divide the deceased’s part of the asset in accordance with their Will – or the intestacy provisions if no legal Will is available.

Probate Depends on the Value of Assets

As mentioned, Probate issues can be confusing, which is why many people seek the help of a Kent accountant for Probate services. Whether or not Probate is required also depends on the value of an estate. And even this isn’t set in stone. In fact, individual banks set their own thresholds for Probate (usually between £5,000 and £50,000) so you’ll have to speak to the financial institutions of the deceased to find out if a Grant of Probate is needed. If it is, the executor of the Will should apply.

The Importance of a Will

As you can see, Probate issues are complicated enough, but having a Will can at least make things a bit easier for the named executor who can simply act in accordance with the deceased’s wishes. Help is also available from the likes of Kent tax advisors when working out estate values and such, so don’t feel like you have to go it alone.

Probate is often required, even if a Will is present, so make sure you understand how to handle someone’s estate legally or seek help if you’re confused.

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