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Probate, also known as Grant of Probate, may be needed when someone passes away. Obtaining probate provides the Executor(s) or Administrator(s) with the authority to act on behalf of the estate and proceed with the estate administration process.  Although the probate is not necessary for all estates, estate administration must always be carried out. 

When probate is required

When assets are held solely and the balance exceeds their probate threshold, financial institutions may need to see a Grant in order to release funds. This threshold varies as it is set by the individual institution rather than by the Government. Therefore, it may be a timely task to contact each institution where the deceased held assets to understand their requirements.

When not required

Generally, probate isn’t required if the estate is valued at less than £5,000, as most financial institutions will release funds lower than this.  Also, if assets were held jointly, probate is often not required as these assets automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner. However, some jointly held assets, such as property, may need a Grant if specific arrangements have been made during lifetime. For example, if the property is owned by tenants in common rather than joint tenancy.

With a Will

Probate may still be required if there is a Will. If there are solely owned assets and the value of one or more asset(s) exceeds the relevant financial institution’s threshold, probate is most likely required, whether the person passed away with a Will or intestate.

Probate thresholds 

Financial institutions, such as banks or building societies, may decide whether probate is required on a case-by-case basis, or they might have a set threshold. Probate thresholds vary greatly from institution to institution, typically ranging between £5,000 and £50,000. As these thresholds are subject to change by the individual institution, it is recommended that you check with the relevant institution when required.

The process

The probate application process involves completing a PA1P (if there is a Will) or a PA1A (if there is no Will). Deaths dated on or after 1 January 2022 that meet the excepted estate criteria do not require an Inheritance Tax (IHT) form. If the estate does not meet the criteria, an IHT form will also be required. 


All these details, plus the death certificate, must then be sent to the Probate Registry. Probate can be applied for online if you have the original Will and death certificate, but documents will still need to be sent by post after submission.


Due to COVID-19, there are currently significant delays to the probate application process; the Probate Registry continues to encourage people to utilise their online application service to try and reduce these delays.

There is a set government fee for obtaining probate in England and Wales which has recently been raised to £273 for estates over £5,000. For estates that are £5,000 or less, there is no fee to pay. 

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