What happens if your not applying for probate

What happens if your not applying for probate

Probate is the process of administering a persons estate by organising their assets, money and possessions when they pass away. Their estate must be distributed as per the terms of a will or in line with the rules of intestacy. We take a look at what happens if your not applying for probate.

Starting the probate process

To commence probate, an executor (the person who takes legal responsibility for carrying out the instructions of a will) must apply for a Grant of Probate.  A Grant gives an executor the legal authority to deal with the deceased’s property. This is until all taxes are paid and inheritance has been passed on.

When a person dies intestate (where there is no will), a Grant of Probate cannot be applied for. Instead the estate is administered through a Grant of Administration. 

A person who has been named as an executor can chose to ‘renounce’ the right to accept the role.

Is probate required

Not every estate requires the need for probate.  If there is no property and only a small amount of money, with a total value usually less than £5,000, probate is not usually required.  Each bank or financial institution has different value limits on when they require a grant of probate.

Probate is also not required for property that is owned jointly as joint tenants, as this passes through the right of survivorship. This means the property automatically passes to the surviving owner.

Probate is required however when property jointly owned but as ‘tenants in common’ or where a larger estate requires distributing.

Not applying for probate

Not applying for probate, means that the deceased’s estate cannot be dealt with.  The estate cannot be assessed or distributed, leaving assets and accounts frozen and in a state of limbo. 

If you do not apply for probate, as either an executor or administrator then generally the deceased’s estate cannot be accessed or transferred.  As explained, probate may not be needed for smaller estates or for property owned as joint tenants. It is always best to seek professional advice before distributing any estate.

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