Legal column: Do I need Probate?
By Helen Dexter,
Tilly, Bailey and Irvine
It is a common misconception that if you have a will, it is not necessary to obtain probate to your estate once you have died.
Whether or not probate is needed depends upon the assets owned by the deceased at the time they died.
A grant of probate (also known as a grant of representation) is obtained by the executors named in the will from one of the probate registries around the country and proves the entitlement to handle the assets owned by the deceased. The grant of probate enables executors to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will.
If assets were held in joint names, then the assets pass by survivorship to the surviving owner and a grant of probate is not required. If, however, there is a house or some land in the sole name of the deceased, probate will have to be obtained.
When dealing with bank and building society accounts it depends upon the balance in the account as at the date of death whether or not a grant of probate will be necessary. Each bank and building society have their own discretionary threshold.
If shares are held it is usually necessary to obtain a grant of probate.
In order to obtain a grant of probate it is necessary to complete an inheritance tax form detailing assets and liabilities in the estate. Whether or not inheritance tax is paid depends upon the value of the estate and beneficiaries.
Solicitors also prepare an oath which is sworn by the executors named in the will. The oath and inheritance tax form are submitted together with a fee of £155.00, together with an additional fee of 50p per extra copy of the grant required.
If the deceased did not leave a will then there are no executors who can obtain a grant of probate. A grant of representation from the probate registry may however still be required depending upon the assets owned by the deceased at the date of death. Who is entitled to obtain the grant of representation however depends upon what family members survived them. The intestacy rules (which apply when someone dies without a Will) dictate which people are entitled to the estate.
Solicitors at Tilly Bailey & Irvine Law Firm have many years experience obtaining probate for both simple and complicated scenarios.
A grant of probate can be sealed within 3 to 4 weeks of the death.