Probate is usually required if the estate of the person who died is worth more than £10,000. However, if most of the assets in the estate were jointly owned, probate may not be needed at all.
Probate is the legal process you need to go through to deal with someone’s estate when they die. After going through this process, you’ll receive a government-approved document that you can take to banks, the land registry and other organisations. This gives you the authority to collect assets and distribute funds to beneficiaries.
Depending on your specific situation, you’ll either need a grant of probate or a grant of letters of administration. In some cases, probate may not be required at all – but we’ll come back to that a bit later.
Check if you need probate online
This article explains the situations you might need probate in. Another option is to use our free online tool to check whether you need probate in your personal circumstances.
How much money can someone leave before probate is required?
The probate threshold in England and Wales can be anywhere between £5,000 and £50,000. This is because every bank and financial organisation has their own rules on how much money they can release before seeing a grant of probate.
We’ve provided a list of probate thresholds from the most popular financial organisations below:
Aviva - £50,000
AXA - £10,000
Bank of Ireland - £10,000
Bank of Scotland - £50,000
Barclays - £50,000
Birmingham Midshires - £25,000
Britannia - £30,000
Cheltenham & Gloucester - £25,000
Co-op Bank - £30,000
First Direct - Decided on a case-by-case basis. (If beneficiaries are children: £30,000. If beneficiaries is a spouse: £50,000. Might be lower for others, in which case you have to contact First Direct.)
Halifax - £50,000
HSBC - Decided on a case-by-case basis. (If beneficiaries are children: £30,000. If beneficiaries is a spouse: £50,000. Might be lower for others, in which case you have to contact HSBC.)
Lloyds TSB - £50,000
M&S Money - £15,000
Nationwide - £50,000
Natwest - £25,000
NS&I - £5,000 to £15,000 depending on the will and the number of executors
Post Office - £10,000
Royal Bank of Scotland - £25,000
Sainsbury's Bank - £20,000
Santander - £50,000
Skipton Building Society £15,000
Tesco Bank - £25,000
Virgin Money £35,000
Woolwich - £15,000
Yorkshire Building Society - £30,000
Do I need probate?
Probate is required after around 50% of deaths in the UK and can be needed whether there is a will or not. Here are two things you can do to try and find out if you need probate:
1. Work out the value of the estate
If the total value of the estate is less than £10,000, you probably won’t need to apply for probate. This is because banks are more willing to release smaller funds and assets without seeing a formal grant from the government.
In some cases, banks and other organisations have been known to release up to £50,000 without seeing a grant. So if you think the estate value is fairly small, check with the specific companies to see what their probate threshold is.
2. Find out if the assets are jointly owned
The next thing to find out is how the assets are owned. If all the assets in the estate are jointly owned – such as property, bank accounts and savings – these will automatically pass to the surviving co-owner. This means that you won’t need to apply for probate to release these assets, you’ll just need the death certificate.
However, you may still need to apply for probate if the property was owned as tenants in common, or if there are other solely owned assets within the estate. This may include things like bank accounts, shares, pensions and life insurance policies.
3. Get a free probate consultation
If you need help working out whether you need to apply for probate, you can speak to one of our probate specialists for free by calling 020 3695 2090. We’ll talk through your situation for a few minutes and offer guidance on the estate you’re dealing with.
Do I need probate if there's a will?
Probate can be needed whether there’s a will or not. If the estate you’re dealing with is worth more than £10,000 and includes a number of solely-owned assets, then you probably need probate.
However, if the estate you’re dealing with is worth less than £10,000 or is only made up of joint assets (such as a mortgage or joint bank account), then you may not need probate.
To find out if you need probate, call our friendly team today on 020 3695 2090.
When isn't probate required?
Probate isn’t usually required if the estate is worth less than £10,000. This is because most banks and building societies will release funds under £10,000 without seeing a grant of probate.
Another scenario where probate may not be needed is if most of the assets are jointly owned. This is because assets like joint mortgages and savings accounts automatically pass to the surviving owner.
How to apply for probate
Once you’ve worked out that you need probate and built up a good picture of the assets and debts within the estate, you should start your application as soon as possible. The government can take a little while to approve applications, so the sooner yours is submitted, the better.
When it comes to applying for probate with Farewill, you’ll have a choice between two different options:
1. Essential Probate
The cheapest option is simply to get the grant of probate or letters of administration. For this, Farewill quotes a fixed-price of just £595 – or £1,045 for more complex cases. This is a great choice if the estate is fairly straightforward, you have plenty of free time and you’re good with numbers.
After a brief consultation over the phone, we’ll set up a follow-up call to record all the necessary information about the estate. Once we have everything we need, our legal team will complete the application and tax forms, then we’ll send this to you for your approval before submitting it to the probate registry.
Once we receive the grant, we’ll send it out in the post, then you’re free to sort out the estate yourself – including selling property, paying off debts, closing bank accounts and distributing assets.
2. Complete Probate
If you’re short on time, want more support or feel that the estate is too complex to take on yourself, we also offer a Complete Probate (estate administration) service. This reduces the burden on you and your family and gives you the assurance that the estate is being dealt with correctly.
Here’s a brief breakdown of what’s included with Complete Probate:
Contacting third parties about the assets and debts in the estate
Completing the application for probate
Collecting or transferring assets
Paying off debts to include taxes
Contacting beneficiaries and ensuring that they receive their inheritance
As Complete Probate is a more involved service, our pricing varies on a case-by-case basis. Call our probate specialists today on 020 3695 2090 for a free quote.
Probate is usually needed if the estate of the person who died is worth more than £10,000. You can read our guide on what is probate for more information.
If most of the assets in the estate were jointly owned – such as a joint mortgage or bank account – probate may not be needed.
If you need help working out if probate is needed, you can speak to our friendly specialists by calling 020 3695 2090.
Do I need probate if my husband or wife dies?