What Type of Assets are Subject to Probate?

Assets Subject to Probate

In England, the term probate is used in order to describe both the legal and financial process involved in dealing with the money, possessions and property of someone who has passed away. Throughout this process, the executor of the will has to prove that the will is valid, confirm that they have the authority to administer the estate, settle liabilities and distribute the assets to the correct beneficiaries. Not all assets are subject to probate, it comes down to what that asset actually is and the means by which it was owned by the deceased. This article is going to talk in more detail about the assets which are subject to probate.

Common Misconceptions

There is a common misconception that every asset which is contained within an estate is going to be liable to probate. This is not the case. There are a lot of instances where probate is not necessary for assets, it all comes down to what type of asset it is and how it was owned.

Assets That Don’t Require Probate

So, what are some of the assets that do not require a grant of probate? They include but are not limited to some of the following:

  • Jointly Held Assets

These are the assets which are held jointly by the deceased and another individual who is still alive. It’s most commonly seen in married couples but that doesn’t always have to be the case. One of the most common instances is a bank account, if a bank account is being held in joint names and then an account holder dies, the account doesn’t form part of the estate and instead the whole thing is transferred over to the surviving account holder. A death certificate is usually required when doing this.

Another common example of a jointly held asset is property. A lot of couples, when buying a house together, will buy it as joint tenants. When this is the case they each own the property jointly and share it. If they are joint tenants then the property simply passes on to the surviving owner. If they were tenants in common then this isn’t the case and the percentage which was owned by the deceased forms part of the estate.

  • Low Value Assets

If an asset doesn’t have a very high value (usually £500 or less) then a grant of probate isn’t going to be required. You tend to find that different banks and building societies have their own thresholds which vary but a small value probably isn’t going to require any kind of probate.

Assets Which Require Probate

Despite the above, it is common for assets to require probate, meaning whoever is executing the will is going to be responsible for obtaining a grant of probate. This grant of probate is going to be a legal authority which gives the executor of the will the power to sell said asset. Some of the most common assets that require probate include the following:

  • Assets In the Deceased’s Sole Name

If anything was owned solely by the deceased then it is going to require probate. The most common example of this is the deceased’s property, where if just the deceased owned the property or if it was part of a tenants in common agreement, then a grant of probate will be necessary before it can be sold or transferred. Some of the other common examples of these kinds of assets include the likes of bank accounts, building society accounts, bonds and shares.

  • Investment Products

There are a variety of different forms that investment products could take which include the likes of an investment portfolio that contains a number of different assets. If this is the case and the executor wants the investment company to pay out to the Estate then it’s more than likely that a grant of probate will be required.

  • Life Insurance Policies

If the deceased had some kind of life insurance policy in place and had nominated someone in their Will who they would like to benefit from this upon their death then a grant of probate isn’t going to be required. That being said, if the individual had not nominated anybody to benefit from the payout of life insurance then the policy will form part of the estate as a whole, which means that a grant of probate will be required.

  • Foreign Assets

If the deceased had any assets which were held outside of England and Wales then chances are a grant of probate is going to be required. If this is the case then it is recommended that you seek specialist advice not only for this country but also for the country where the assets are being held. There are likely going to be some strict legal requirements that have to be met when dealing with the asset as there will be tax liabilities and implications from both countries that should be dealt with.

  • Business Assets

Finally, if the deceased had any kind of business asset within their estate then it is very likely that there is going to have to be a grant of probate required for this asset to be dealt with. Usually, business assets which are relevant in a Will belong to a family business but it can vary on a case-by-case basis.

Do You Need Help with Probate?

If you currently need help with probate then you should be sure to get in touch with experts who are going to be able to assist. The process can be a relatively tricky one and as such it is important that you are on top of things throughout. Probate Online will be able to help you throughout the process and provide you with advice on what the best way forward is. If you have any questions or require any further information about what we can do for you then do not hesitate to get in touch.  

Probate Application Progress and Tracking Progress Explained in the United Kingdom

Probate Application Progress

In the UK, if a deceased person’s estate is in excess of £5,000, which it usually is if there is a property to be included in the value of the estate, the executors will have to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to manage the estate, settle any tax due with HMRC, value and sell the assets, and distribute the estate in accordance with the deceased’s wishes in their will.

The majority of probate applications are now made online via MyHMCTS (HM Courts & Tribunals Service), particularly since the pandemic. Since it was established in 2018, over 30,000 probate applications have been made via the MyHMCTS service. But how do you monitor probate application progress?

Applying for probate

If the deceased left a will, the executors apply for probate. Executors can be family members, trusted friends or solicitors, but they shouldn’t be beneficiaries.  If there is more than one executor, the application for probate online should include all of the executor’s names. We should just point out that only the executors are allowed to apply for a Grant of Probate.

If the deceased did not leave a will, the next of kin, a close relative, or a solicitor must apply to the court for authority to administer the deceased’s estate. When they apply, they are requesting Letters of Administration that give them the authority to deal with probate. They are also known as the Administrator when managing the estate.

There are other circumstances where Letters of Administration are required, including:

  • You have been left the entire estate;
  • There are no executors named in the will;
  • The executors are not prepared to accept the role.

What do I need to apply for probate?

To apply for probate online, you should have the following information to hand:

  • The deceased’s original will, including any codicils (small additions to the will).  It is recommended you have at least two copies of the will and codicils. 
  • The death certificate or an interim certificate.
  • HMRC’s Inheritance Tax form (IHT205) duly completed, even if Inheritance Tax is not due.

You will need these physical documents as you will be required to send them to The Probate Registry once you have completed the online application.

If no Inheritance Tax is due, you will need to complete a different Inheritance Tax form,  IHT205. You will also need this form if:

  • The value of the deceased’s estate is £325,000 or less (known as an Excepted Estate).
  • The value of the estate is less than the Excepted Estate joint limit of £650,000.  However, there has to be a claim to transfer the entire nil band rate from a wife, husband or civil partner that died first, and their allowance wasn’t used.
  • The estate’s value is less than £1 million, but no Inheritance Tax is due as the estate is being passed on to a surviving wife, husband or civil partner, or it is a charity exemption.

Tracking probate application progress

As well as applying for probate, MyHMCTS’ online probate service allows executors, administrators and solicitors to view their probate application progress and the forms they have via a dashboard. They are also able to monitor their probate application progress.  According to HMCTS, the only documentation that needs to be sent to them is the original will, a copy of the death certificate and the completed Inheritance Tax forms.

To use MyHMCTS’s online probate service, you will need to open a Pay By Account (PBA) account. This links directly with MyHMCTS’s fee account system, where you are able to pay for your online probate application.  Once registered as an executor or as an Administrator, you will be able to start and track your online probate application.

Once you have completed your online probate application and digitally signed the declaration at the end of the application, print off the declaration as you will need to enclose this with the documents you send to The Probate Registry.

Always make sure you keep a copy of each of the documents you are sending to The Probate Service and despatch using Royal Mail’s recorded delivery service. If you are sending a notarial copy or a court-sealed copy of the will, you will need to send a cover letter as well that details where the original will is being kept and the reason why it is not being released.

MyHMCTS keeps your probate record up-to-date with progress and will detail each step as it is completed so that you can track it. Once probate has been granted, it is a good idea to buy a copy of the Grant of Probate (if you didn’t make that request when you applied).

The Grant of Probate will contain information that is crucial to the handling of the deceased’s estate, including:

  • The date of death – this is related to the timings of administering the deceased’s estate.
  • Whether the deceased lived in the UK or not – for any claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975), the deceased must have been domiciled in England or Wales.
  • Whether there is a will or the deceased died intestate (without a will).
  • The names of the executors/administrators who are acting as defendants to any claim on a will or estate being contested.
  • The net value of the deceased’s estate.
  • The date probate was granted. Any claims under the above Act must be made within six months of the date probate is granted.

Having the date probate was granted will also give family and/or beneficiaries an idea of how long before they are likely to receive their inheritance.

At Probates Online, we offer a will writing service or a Complete Estate Service to help you through the probate process and estate administration upon the death of a loved one. If you are looking for advice on inheritance tax, gifts or trusts, or need to apply for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or would like to take advantage of our entire Estate Administration service, visit our website for more information or contact us today.