When is probate required?

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 definition

Probate is the official process for dealing with someone's property, money and personal possessions (their estate) after they die. It involves getting a document (a grant) from the Court, which is the legal authority that enables you handle the assets of the person who has died and distribute money to the right people.

If there's a will, you may need the document to prove that you have the right to deal with assets like bank accounts, property, shares, pensions and life insurance policies.

Without a will, you may need a 'grant of letters of administration' instead.

Check if you need probate online

This article explains when probate is required. 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.

This is a list of the probate thresholds from the most UK's popular financial organisations:

  • Aviva - £50,000

  • Axa - £10,000

  • Bank of Ireland UK - £50,000

  • Bank of Scotland - £50,000 if there’s a will or if the estate is passing to spouse or civil partner, £25,000 if there’s no will and it’s passing to another relative

  • Barclays - £50,000

  • Birmingham Midshires - £50,000

  • Britannia - £50,000

  • Cheltenham & Gloucester - £25,000

  • Co-operative Bank - £50,000

  • First Direct - Decided on a case-by-case basis depending on your relationship to the person who has died

  • Halifax - £50,000

  • HSBC - Decided on a case-by-case basis depending on your relationship to the person who has died

  • Lloyds - £50,000

  • M&S Money - £15,000

  • Nationwide - £50,000

  • NatWest - £50,000

  • NS&I (National Savings & Investments) - £5,000

  • Post Office - £30,000

  • Royal Bank of Scotland - £50,000

  • Sainsbury’s Bank - £25,000

  • Santander - £50,000

  • Skipton Building Society - £30,000

  • Tesco Bank - £50,000

  • TSB - £50,000

  • Virgin Money - £35,000

  • Woolwich - £15,000

  • Yorkshire Building Society - £30,000

When is probate required?

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 that indicate whether probate is required.

1. The value of the estate

When the total value of the estate is less than £10,000, a grant of probate probably isn't required. 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 the estate value is fairly small, we recommend checking with the individual companies to find out their probate threshold.

2. The way 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. In this instance, a probate certificate isn't required to release the assets, only a death certificate is needed.

If the property was owned as tenants in common, or if there are other solely owned assets within the estate, you may need to apply for probate. This could include things like bank accounts, shares, pensions and life insurance policies. To find out how a property is owned, either:

  1. check the property's title deeds

  2. consult with a solicitor or conveyancer who can conduct a thorough investigation to determine the property's ownership

  3. reach out to the Land Registry who may be able to provide official records confirming how the property is owned

3. Get a free probate consultation

If you need help working out whether you need to apply for probate, speak to one of our probate specialists for free by calling 020 3695 2090. We’ll talk through your situation 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.

  • 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 you submit yours, the better.

If you decide to you'd like support to apply for probate, you'll be able to choose what type of support you need, with Farewill

1. Grant of probate application

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. If the estate is fairly straightforward, you’re good with numbers and you have the time to deal with the estate administration yourself, this could be a good option for you.

We'll start with a brief consultation over the phone and we’ll set up a follow-up call to record all the necessary information about the estate. When we have everything we need, our legal partners will complete the application and any relevant tax forms for you. Then we’ll send everything to you for approval before submitting 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 want more support, you're short on time or feel that the estate is too complex to take on yourself, we also offer a Complete Probate (estate administration) service.

This service reduces the burden on you and your family and gives you the assurance that the estate is being dealt with correctly. This service would also be a good choice if you’re worried about making mistakes, or if an impartial expert could help avoid family conflict.

Our fixed-fee Complete Probate pricing starts from £1,500 and varies on a case-by-case basis depending on the complexity of the estate.

Here’s a brief breakdown of what’s included with this service:

  • Contacting third parties about the assets and debts in the estate

  • Completing the application for probateCollecting or transferring assets

  • Paying off debts to include taxes

  • Contacting beneficiaries and ensuring that they receive their inheritance


  • Probate is usually needed if the estate of the person who died is worth more than £10,000. Read our what is probate guide 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.

Article reviewed

Need help with probate?

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