Is Probate required when there’s a Will?

When is Probate required?

If you’ve never had to deal with the admin following a death, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Probate may not be required when the deceased has left a valid Will.

In fact, the requirement for Probate isn’t directly linked to whether or not there is a Will. It actually depends on the type and value of the assets in the estate, and the way in which they are held. If a person passes away leaving a valid Will, the executors named may need to apply for a legal document called a Grant of Probate. If the deceased has not left a Will, a Personal Representative (usually a spouse or relative) will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Both documents are often known informally as Probate, and the term will be used in reference to both in this article.

What is Probate for?

The Probate or Grant of Letters document is proof that the nominated party has the authority to perform any administrative tasks that are required after a death – such as closing bank accounts and selling property. Executors of a Will can do this themselves, but since dealing with a loss can bring up all sorts of emotions, many choose to use a Kent accountant for probate services instead.

When is Probate required?

If the legal title of land or property is held in the deceased’s sole name, or with their partner as ‘tenants in common’, then a Grant of Probate is necessary for the sale or transference of the asset. The need for Probate also depends on the financial institutions you’re dealing with and the size of the decedent’s estate. Some institutions will class an estate as ‘small’ (meaning Probate is not required) if it is worth up to £50,000. Others will only release funds of a value up to £5,000.

When is Probate needed not necessary?

An example of when Probate is not needed, is when two people own a property as ‘joint tenants’. In this instance, when one dies, the property is passed immediately into the ownership of the surviving partner, regardless of whether the decedent made a Will.

There are a few other instances of when Probate may not be required. If, for example, the deceased’s estate is made up solely of cash and personal assets, such as jewellery or a car, then it’s not necessary to obtain Probate. Similarly, if upon looking into the financial affairs of the decedent, you discover that the estate is insolvent, Probate will not be required.

Although obtaining Probate is not essential in every circumstance, it’s a good idea to seek specialist guidance from Kent tax advisors or solicitors when dealing with the admin side of a death. This is especially true if the estate is complicated, or the terms of the Will are unclear. You might also want help if the deceased has left land or property abroad, or a business. Accepting help from a professional will ensure all the relevant tasks are carried out properly, and the wealth is distributed in accordance with the decedent’s wishes.

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