Do I need probate if my husband or wife dies?

You may need probate if your husband or wife dies and leaves behind assets that aren’t jointly owned with you. However, if you’re the joint owner of their property and bank accounts, probate may not be required.

Is probate needed between husband and wife?

Probate isn’t needed between husband and wife if all the assets in the estate were jointly owned. This includes things like:

  • Property

  • Bank accounts

  • Building society accounts

  • Savings accounts

However, probate may be required if there are additional assets in the estate worth over £10,000 that were owned solely by them. This includes things like:

  • Other bank and building society accounts

  • Personal savings accounts

  • Pensions

  • Stocks and shares

  • ISAs

  • Life insurance

Is probate needed between civil partners?

Like with married partners, probate isn't needed between civil partners for any assets that are jointly owned – such as property, bank accounts, building society accounts and savings. In fact, this rule applies to anyone you own joint assets with, whether they’re your spouse, civil partner, friend or relative.

However, if there are solely owned assets in the estate worth over £10,000, a grant of probate or letters of administration may be required before you can access them.

Let us take care of probate, so you can focus on what matters

Whether you’re applying for probate or need support to handle the estate of someone who’s died, our specialists and legal partners are here to help.

Joint tenants vs. tenants in common – what's the difference?

There are two different ways you can own property with another person: joint tenants or tenants in common. It’s important to understand the difference when dealing with the estate of your husband or wife, as this can impact whether or not you need to apply for probate.

Here, we’ll cover each type of ownership in detail to help you work out how your property is owned.

Joint tenants

If a property is owned as joint tenants, each tenant has equal rights to the whole property. This means that, if one of the tenants dies, the surviving tenant automatically takes ownership of the whole property.

This is the most common type of ownership for people who are married or in a civil partnership.

Tenants in common

If a property is owned as tenants in common, each tenant owns a percentage of the whole property. This means that, if one of the tenants dies, their share of the property makes up part of their estate. This will then pass under the terms of their will or by intestacy if they don’t have a will.

This type of ownership is more popular with unmarried couples or friends taking their first step on the property ladder, but married couples and civil partners can also own property as tenants in common.

How to find out how your property is owned

If you still aren’t sure how your property is owned, call our friendly probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090. We can talk through your situation, work out if you need probate and provide a free quote in just a few minutes.

How to get probate if you’re the executor of your husband or wife’s estate

If you were named the executor of your spouse or civil partner’s will, you may need to apply for probate before you can administer their estate. Here, we’ll cover the main steps you need to follow before you can close accounts and distribute assets to beneficiaries.

1. Work out how much the estate is worth

In order to work out whether probate is required, you’ll need to build up a picture of your spouse or civil partner’s estate. This includes things like property, bank and building society accounts, savings, debts, stocks and shares, life insurance, and pensions.

If there are solely owned assets worth over £10,000, there’s a good chance you’ll need to get a grant of probate before you can distribute funds to beneficiaries. However, this value can be higher for certain organisations.

Get a clear, fixed quote for probate

Our trusted team is here to take responsibility of the legal work, and get you back to focusing on what matters.

2. Apply for probate

Once you’ve worked out that you need a grant of probate, you’ll need to prepare your probate application. It’s important to get started as quickly as possible so that beneficiaries aren’t left waiting for their inheritance.

At Farewill, we offer a fixed-price probate service starting at just £595. Here’s how it works:

  • We have a call to collect details about your loved one’s estate

  • Your probate application is prepared and sent to you to be signed

  • Your probate application is submitted to the probate registry

  • Your approved grant of probate is sent to you in the post

To find out more about our service, or for a free, no obligation quote, give us a call today on 020 3695 2090.

3. Administer the estate

After receiving your approved grant of probate, you’re free to start closing accounts, selling or transferring property, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.

If the estate is fairly simple, you may be comfortable dealing with this yourself. However, this process can become much more complex if there are multiple accounts to deal with or inheritance tax has to be paid.

If you would like help administering the estate of your spouse or civil partner, call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090. We can provide you with a free quote in just a few minutes.

How to apply to be the administrator of your husband of wife's estate

If your husband, wife or civil partner died without a will, you’ll be their next of kin under the rules of intestacy. This means that you stand to inherit the first £322,000 of their estate, plus 50% of anything that remains.

As the main beneficiary of the estate, you’ll need to apply to become the administrator. At the end of this process, you’ll be sent a grant of letters of administration. This will give you the legal authority to deal with their estate in the same way that an executor deals with someone’s estate when there is a will.

To apply to become the administrator of your spouse or civil partner’s estate, call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090.

Article reviewed

Need help with probate?

Our probate specialists are here to help and can offer you a free, no obligation quote over the phone.
Call 020 3695 2090