Wills, Probate and Estate Planning

Our concierge staff can assist in resolving end-of life regulatory and legal hurdles

Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die.

The rules for probate differ in each of the following parts of the United Kingdom:

  • England and Wales
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

Only certain people can apply for probate. Who can apply depends on whether or not there’s a will. If there’s a will, executors named in it can apply.

If there’s no will, the closest living relative can apply.

Is probate needed?

Whether or not probate is needed depends on what assets the deceased person owned, and whether they owned them in their sole name.

If the deceased person owned very little, it’s unlikely that probate will be needed. This is known as having a small estate. However, it’s difficult to say exactly what constitutes a small estate, as there is no set limit.

To work out if you need probate, you’ll need to find out how much the deceased person’s assets are worth. You’ll also need to find out how these assets were held – in the deceased person’s sole name, or in joint names with someone else who is still alive.

Every bank and financial institution has their own limit and their own approach to probate. Some have a threshold for probate of £5,000, while others have raised it to £50,000.

To make matters more complicated, some banks and financial institutions will say that if the overall value of the deceased person’s estate is (for example) £15,000, probate is required. Others will say that probate is only needed if there is £15,000 in the individual account.

So you’ll need to confirm with the organisations holding the deceased person’s assets as to what their threshold for probate is. This will determine whether or not probate is needed.

Use our Probate Checker

The following interactive questionnaire should assist you in checking whether probate is required:

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