Do I need Probate?

14 Nov 2019

Unless you are dealing with the estate of a deceased British monarch, you may need to obtain Probate, whether or not the deceased left a valid Will.

What is Probate?

Probate (also known as the Grant of Representation) is the document issued by the Family Division of the High Court which:

  •  proves that a deceased’s Will is valid; or
  • confirms who is entitled to deal with the administration of a deceased persons assets under the Will or the intestacy rules.

When is Probate needed?

Probate will usually be necessary:

  • for the transfer or sale of land and buildings where the deceased was the sole legal owner;
  • where any formal legal proceedings are being brought or defended;
  • to transfer or sell stocks or shares in the sole name of the deceased, however small the holding (although registrars of some companies allow shareholdings of low value to be transferred or sold without Probate); and
  • where the amount held in a financial institution exceeds £15,000 (however, the limits vary from institution to institution).

When is Probate not needed?

Some of the circumstances in which Probate may not be required are listed below:

  • for jointly held bank and/or building society accounts. Normally you will need to provide a death certificate;
  • for jointly held stocks or share holdings. As above, usually you will need to provide a death certificate to the registrar;
  • for jointly held land or buildings. If the property is not registered with HM Land Registry, the death certificate should be held with the deeds. If the property is registered, the survivor(s) should submit to HM Land Registry form DJP together with the death certificate;
  • if the amount held in a financial institution is below £15,000 (but note that the limits vary from institution to institution). Usually you will need to provide the death certificate and a copy of the Will (if the deceased left one) and complete a statutory declaration and indemnity;
  • for lump sums payable under a pension. The pension fund rules normally provide that payment is made entirely at the discretion of the trustees;
  • for insurance policies written in trust. The proceeds will usually be paid by the company to the trustees, on production of the policy and death certificate, for the trustees to pass on to the beneficiary; and
  • certain nominated assets subject to financial limits;

I don’t need Probate – do I need to pay Inheritance Tax?

Whether or not you need Probate, you may still need to pay Inheritance Tax.

If you are unsure if you require Probate or whether Inheritance Tax is payable, please contact us on 0800 2800 421. Trethowans has one of the largest Private Client Teams in the South, with specialist solicitors on hand to answer all your enquiries and guide you through every step following the death of a loved one.


James Hammersley


Tags: probate