Northwood Banks & Co Limited

A couple discussing probate.

Do All Estates Need Probate?

If you have been named as an executor, then you might find that you have to apply for a Grant of Probate prior to being able to deal the assets within a deceased person’s estate.


Getting a Grant is commonly known as ‘obtaining probate’ and this is the legal document that is issued by the courts and that provides you with the authority you need to manage the estate of someone who has passed away.


The assets that are held in the estate will determine whether a Grant is required or not and this can include the following:



If property or land is solely owned then a Grant is required to transfer the property or sell it.



Different financial institutions will set their own limits for what can be released to the executor without a Grant being required and that means that a Grant for any amounts over their limit will need to be obtained.


Investments or shares

A Grant is more than likely required to present to the asset provider unless they will accept indemnity signed by the personal representative in those instances where there are small estates.


Life insurance policies written in trust

These will often fall outside the parameters of the estate and that means that a Grant will not always be required.

Things can become complicated when there are foreign assets and business interests and, in these instances, a grant might need to be obtained before the estate can be dealt with.


Assets Held Jointly

If the individual who has passed away had assets held jointly with someone else, then ownership will automatically be passed across to the survivor via survivorship. This will happen regardless of whether the deceased had a Will in place that stipulates that the estate will be left to someone else. In terms of the legal title, there will be no need to have a Grant in place. The survivor will take ownership of the asset outright which means that it will be transferred into his or her sole name.


When dealing with property, it is important to ensure that extra care is taken, especially when property is held jointly, as it can be owned as joint tenants or tenants in common. Where two or more people own a property as tenants in common, it will mean that each person owns a distinct and separate share in the property. Should one of them pass away, their share of the property will be passed in accordance with the Will that they have in place or should there be no Will, it will be passed under the rules of intestacy.


While it is not always a requirement to obtain a Grant, the personal representative is still the one who is responsible and liable for handling the distribution and administration, which means that it can still be worth seeking specialist advice. Furthermore, in those instances where there is an intestate estate, this can prove more complex and difficult to handle, which means that help should be sought to ensure the strict legal rules relating to intestacy are followed.