Do I need probate?
This question is often the first that will cross any executor’s mind. The answer is that it depends on the assets in the estate.
The following are circumstances where probate is unlikely to be required.
Firstly, joint assets. Where assets are held jointly such as a joint bank account, they automatically transfer to the fellow joint owner (called survivorship) negating the need for a Grant. There are exceptions to this for example in small cases where the property is held as ‘tenants in common’.
Secondly, assets held in trust. Where a Deceased benefitted from assets held in trust during their lifetime and they did not have any legal ownership to those assets then a Grant is unlikely to be required.
Thirdly, assets of low value. Banks will always release cash in bank accounts if the value is below £5,000. However, more and more common is that banks will also close accounts where less than £25,000 is held. Each bank has its own rules for this, so it is case dependant.
Fourthly, personal chattels. You do not need a Grant to distribute a Deceased’s personal items such as sentimental jewellery if they held a Will. This is because an executor’s authority to deal with those assets derives from the Will. A Grant for this would be required however if they died intestate i.e. with no Will.
Finally, pensions and life policies written into trust. These assets do not form part of the Deceased’s estate for inheritance tax purposes and payment of them is at the discretion of the trustees. A grant is therefore not required provided that the Deceased has nominated beneficiaries for them in their lifetime.
In summary, there are lots of situations where a Grant may not be required. If you are an executor or administrator of an estate and are unsure, please do make contact so we can advise you accordingly.