Accessing Assets: When and Why Banks ask for a Grant of Probate

After a death, an estate executor or administrator is responsible for winding up the deceased’s affairs. This may include obtaining a Grant of Probate. We take a look at when banks ask for a grant of probate before releasing funds.

In some situations, it is not necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate after someone dies. This includes when the deceased left a ‘small’ estate, although there is no exact legal definition of a small estate. If the deceased held a property or more than £15,000 in other assets, you will usually need to apply for a Grant of Probate. If the deceased had no Will, then the application is for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Bank limits for Grant of Probate

If most of the deceased’s assets are held in a bank account, it is up to the individual bank as to whether a Grant of Probate is needed. Each bank has set its own limit above which it requires a Grant of Probate.

You will need to add up the total amount held with each particular bank, if there is more than one account. Some banks will require probate if the entire estate is above their specified level.

Banks change their limits regularly, so you will need to check the exact amount when dealing with someone’s estate. By way of guidance, many banks set the limit at £50,000. Although some are as low as £20,000. National Savings and Investments (NS&I) requires a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. This is for holdings of £5,000 or more. NS&I holdings include Premium Bonds.

Documents required by banks after a death

Banks will ask for several documents before they will close an account. These will generally include:

  • An original copy of the death certificate
  • Proof of identification
  • A completed account closure form

If a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration is required, an official sealed copy should be sent to them.

Where a grant is not necessary, the bank will ask you to sign a small estates indemnity. This confirms that you will act in accordance with the deceased’s Will. Or, in the case that they did not leave a Will, the Rules of Intestacy which set out who is entitled to inherit.

Where do I get a grant of probate from?

If you do need to apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration, you will need to value the estate first. If Inheritance Tax is payable, this must be settled before the application can be made.

The probate application form must then be completed and the application fee paid to the Probate Registry.

Once the grant is received, the estate’s executor (or administrator, if they left no Will) can deal with the winding up of the deceased’s affairs. Alternatively they can instruct a solicitor to do this on behalf of the estate.

It is important to follow the correct procedure and avoid errors as an executor or administrator. There is the threat of personal liability for any mistakes made that cause loss to the estate, even if they are genuine errors.

You may like to read our other related posts regarding Probate which can be found on our News page.

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