Do I need Probate on first death?

04 May 2021

Probate in the UK is a legal authority granted by the UK Probate Office, a Government department, to the executors on their application for the legal right to deal with someone's property, money and possessions (their 'estate').

If there is a will document, this should make the process easier to administer. The Executors will receive a Grant of Probate. If not, and the deceased died with no will, called intestate, the process may be more complicated. Executors will receive a Letters of Administration in this situation.

One question that has been asked about needing Probate is when a spouse/ civil partner dies leaving a spouse/ civil partner. If a legal will leaves everything to the surviving spouse/ civil partner, it can seem strange to need Probate on the first death. Indeed, on contact with some financial providers, such as Banks, the messages that can be received can be conflicting.

If assets are owned jointly, they can normally be transferred to the surviving spouse/ civil partner without probate. If assets are held in the sole name of the deceased and were small (under £5,000), probate may not be required. However, if assets were held in a sole name and were significant (over £5,000) probate is likely to be required. To make an application for Probate, you will need the Will (if there is one), a Death Certificate, and a value of the estate. Please note that it can take a few months in current times for Probate to be granted.

It is interesting to note how some financial institutions deal with the situation. As an example, and based on their current rules, National Savings Premium Bonds, have a form for a surviving spouse/ civil partner to complete and they will decide if they require sight of Probate. The money invested in the Premium Bonds can stay invested for up to 1 year from the date of death and winnings can be rolled up. More here: https://www.nsandi.com/files/asset/pdf/death-claims-form.pdf

You can apply for Probate directly or through a solicitor and helpful details of the form or online application for Probate if required, and any costs of application (£215.00 for an estate value over £5,000 if applying direct/ £155 through a Solicitor), can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate

Bereavement Support Payment

With the loss of your spouse or civil partner, it would also be sensible to see if you are eligible for a Bereavement Support Payment. More detail and how to claim can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-support-payment

Starting the process of tidying up a loved one's estate after their passing can be a daunting and frustrating process, especially if it was not the area you dealt with in the relationship. With some mixed messages coming through, it can be a very troubling time.

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No financial or legal advice is provided during the course of this Blog.

Keith Churchouse FPFS

Director

CFP Chartered FCSI

Chartered Financial Planner

Chapters Financial Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, number 402899