Category: Probate


When is probate required? – an overview of UK financial institutions

When assets are held solely and the balance exceeds their probate threshold, financial institutions may need to see a Grant of Probate before releasing funds. This threshold varies as it is set by the individual institution rather than by the Government. Therefore, it may be a timely task to contact each institution where the deceased held assets to understand their requirements.

Generally, probate isn’t required if the estate is valued at less than £5,000, as most financial institutions will release funds lower than this. Also, if assets were held jointly, probate is often not required as these assets automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner.

Financial institutions, such as banks or building societies, may decide whether probate is required on a case-by-case basis, or they might have a set threshold. Probate thresholds vary greatly from institution to institution, typically ranging between £5,000 and £50,000. It is recommended that you check with the relevant institution when required.

Examples of probate thresholds
Aviva, £50k; Bank of Scotland, £25k; Co-op Bank, £30k; First Direct, 20k; HSBC, decided on a case-by-case basis; Nationwide, £50k; NatWest, £25k; Post Office, 10k; and Santander, 50k. The probate application process involves completing a PA1P (if there is a Will) or a PA1A (if there is no Will). Probate can be applied for online if you have the original Will and death certificate, but documents will still need to be sent by post after submission. There is a set government fee for obtaining probate which has recently been raised to £273 for estates over £5,000. For estates that are £5,000 or less, there is no fee to pay.

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The difference between probate and estate administration

You might be aware of ‘probate’ but you may not have heard of the term ‘estate administration’. Although both are related to dealing with the deceased’s estate, they have different definitions and people often get the two confused.

Probate may be required when someone passes away. The umbrella term, ‘Grant of Representation’, refers to the ‘Grant of Probate’ or ‘Letters of Administration’ (if there is no Will) in England & Wales. This is called ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland. Probate is not always required. For example, assets that were held jointly will automatically pass to the surviving spouse.

Estate administration is the process of handling a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve died. This means dealing with their assets, debts, and taxes before distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries. As each estate is unique, it’s difficult to predict exactly how long the process will take. We advise that it should be expected to take several months.

To sum up the difference between probate and estate administration: probate is just one part of the wider process, providing you with the legal right to move forward with estate administration. Although probate is not always required, estate administration must always be carried out, no matter the estate’s value.

Obtaining probate and carrying out estate administration can often be complex and time-consuming, adding stress at a time that is already difficult for those who are grieving. Many choose to appoint a professional to act on their behalf.

KIngs Court Trust