When someone close to you dies, it can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to deal with your loss, but also there are formalities that have to be considered and this can be daunting. One of the most likely tasks you will have to face will be to obtain a Grant of Probate.

Probate is the process that gives you the legal right to deal with the estate left by someone who has died. A ‘Grant of Probate’ is the legal authority to deal with estate left after someone passes away. Probate is the general term used to describe the processes required to apply for the Grant of Probate and includes dealing with all of the person’s finances, bank accounts, property, assets, investments, debts, valuations and so on. All assets are essentially ‘frozen’ after someone dies until a Grant of Probate is obtained.

The Grant of Probate is obtained to release all elements of the estate to the Executor, or person responsible. You will receive official documents you can take to various institutions, like banks, insurance companies, land registry and pension funds for example, to enable you to collect assets and distribute funds to beneficiaries.

Probate is not always required, but depending on the circumstances, you will either receive a Grant of Probate, only issued to named Executors of the Will, or Letters of Administration, issued to the those entitled under the rules of intestacy if the individual died without a Will.

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What is the Probate threshold?

Generally but not always, if the deceased individual’s total estate is valued at less than £5,000 probate will not be needed. Each financial institution uses their own discretion for estates valued at between £5,000 and £20,000 and depending on their policies may just require their own forms to be completed. In these circumstances, each institution will inform you as to their own policies once they have been notified that someone has died.

Do you need Probate?

To understand if you need to apply for Probate, it will be necessary to start by calculating the value of the estate. As set out above, if the value is less than £20,000, you probably won’t need to apply for probate, as the banks will often release smaller funds and assets without a formal grant. Most will have a specific policy and value limit that they will apply, so it’s worth checking with each individual institution to ascertain their thresholds.

Next, work out if assets are jointly owned. If assets like property, bank accounts and savings are jointly owned, these will usually pass automatically to the surviving co-owner, which means only the death certificate will be needed for these to be released, rather than probate.

Again, depending on the individual circumstances, probate may be required if the property was owned as tenants in common, or if the estate included some solely owned assets, like a bank account, shares, life insurance policies or even a classic car.

How to apply for Probate

Once you’ve worked out the initial value of the estate and decided you will need probate, you should ensure that you have the authority to handle matters relating to the estate. If there is no will naming an Executor, or someone dies intestate, you will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration to enable you to act as the person responsible. It is advised to act as quickly as possible, because the authorities can be slow to approve applications.

The most cost-effective solution is to gather as much information as possible, including the most up to date will and for a one off cost of £595 plus VAT, we can work with you using a thorough checklist,

to enable completion of all probate requirements and the necessary calculations in relation to inheritance tax and formal submissions. The only additional charges will be those related to formal charges outside our own services. This works well for a simple estate and keeps costs to a minimum.

Our administration cost includes professional support through the initial stages when someone passes away, determining the validity of the will, where there is no will, how intestacy rules apply, identifying personal representative and what actions/information will be needed prior to implementing the probate process.

Our experienced team will advise by phone or video call, on the details you’ll need. When we follow-up shortly afterwards, we’ll record all the necessary information and complete the application and tax forms, which you will see and approve before we submit them to the probate registry.

Once we receive the grant of probate (or Letters of Administration), our team will send it to you in the post and then you can resolve matters concerning the estate yourself, including transferring funds and closing bank accounts, selling property and distributing other assets.

Probate peace of mind

Bereavement can be stressful enough, without the thought of resolving a complex estate and applying for probate by yourself, adding to your problems. Here at Cardium we provide a comprehensive estate administration service that delivers real peace of mind.

Unlike other services of this type however, we not only provide a simplified probate service, but should complications arise, we manage a ‘direct access to Barristers’ scheme. This minimises cost whilst providing an efficient legal approach to contentious wills, disputes and more complex estate issues.

At a difficult period in your life, you and your family will benefit from knowing the estate is being dealt with correctly and that all the administrative matters are handled sensitively, timely and with the minimum of inconvenience.

Our more complex services include dealing with third parties about the estate’s assets and debts, along with completing the application for probate. We also handle collecting or transferring assets, paying off debts including taxes due, and then we ensure beneficiaries receive their inheritance.

As you might expect, this full estate administration service is tailored to your exact needs and is based on individual circumstances. To understand more about what we can do to help, please speak to our probate team today.