This blog looks at when probate is required and the thresholds that trigger it with UK financial institutions.
When is probate required?
When assets are held solely and the balance exceeds their probate threshold, financial institutions may need to see a Grant in order to release 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.
When is probate not required?
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. However, some jointly held assets, such as property, may need a Grant if specific arrangements have been made during lifetime. For example, if the property is owned by tenants in common rather than joint tenancy.
Is probate required if there is a Will?
Probate may still be required if there is a Will. If there are solely owned assets and the value of one or more asset(s) exceeds the relevant financial institution’s threshold, probate is most likely required, whether the person passed away with a Will or intestate. If the individual has passed away without a Will, the Administrator will need to apply for Letters of Administration rather than a Grant of Probate, but the thresholds and requirements remain the same.
Current probate thresholds for UK financial institutions
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. As these thresholds are subject to change by the individual institution, it is recommended that you check with the relevant institution when required.
|Bank of Ireland||€35,000 (approx. £30,000)|
|Bank of Scotland||£25,000|
|M&S Money||Decided on a case-by-case basis|
|NS&I (Premium Bonds)||£5,000|
|Royal Bank of Scotland||£25,000|
|Skipton Building Society||£30,000|
|Yorkshire Building Society||£30,000|
Thresholds are subject to change. The above we believe to be accurate as of August 2023. If you are administering an estate, you should check with each institution if a grant is required.
The probate process
The probate application process involves completing a PA1P (if there is a Will) or a PA1A (if there is no Will). Deaths dated on or after 1 January 2022 that meet the excepted estate criteria do not require an Inheritance Tax (IHT) form. If the estate does not meet the criteria, an IHT form will also be required.
All these details, plus the death certificate, must then be sent to the Probate Registry. 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.
How long does it take to get a Grant of Probate?
Generally, it takes 6-8 weeks after applying to receive the Grant of Probate. However, due to COVID-19, there are currently significant delays to the probate application process; the Probate Registry continues to encourage people to utilise their online application service to try and reduce these delays.
How much does a Grant of Probate cost?
There is a set government fee for obtaining probate in England and Wales 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. Learn more about probate fees here.
What happens after probate is granted?
Once the Executor or Administrator has the Grant of Probate, they have the legal and financial responsibility to administer the estate. In summary, this includes dealing with all of the deceased’s assets, property, debts, tax work, and distributing inheritance to the beneficiaries as named in the Will (or under the rules of intestacy if there is no Will).
The Personal Representative does not need to apply for probate or administer the estate themselves if they don’t want to; they can instruct a professional to carry out the process on their behalf.