Do I Need Probate for a Small Estate?

Nadia Rimmer
Nadia Morgan
Associate Solicitor Advocate

You usually don't need Probate for a small Estate (valued under £5,000) but it can depend on a few things. In England and Wales most Estates require Probate to allow Executors or Administrators to deal with the assets, which include any property, money and possessions.

If you’ve been named as Executor of a Will, then you can choose to apply for a Grant of Probate yourself or get help from a Probate Solicitor. If your loved one did not make a Will, you can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, so you can be appointed as Administrator of the Estate.

We offer a range of Probate services tailored to your individual requirements, including a Full Probate Service and a Grant of Probate Application Only Service. For free initial legal advice, get in touch with our expert Probate Solicitors today to see how we can help you.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

What is a Small Estate?

An Estate will be considered small if its assets are valued under £5,000 – this usually means it doesn’t include a property.  

Banks and building societies all have different requirements for releasing funds, and will ask for a copy of the Grant of Probate document if an Estate is over their set threshold. For example, some banks will release funds up to a threshold as high as £50,000, while others have a smaller limit of £5,000 - £15,000.

All banks will vary, so make sure you check with the bank provider whether or not you need a Grant of Probate for the Estate you’re dealing with.

When Probate is Not Needed

There can be other exceptions when it comes to applying for Probate. Probate won’t be needed if:

  • Joint assets - if you jointly owned assets with someone and they die before you, then these assets will automatically pass on to you as the surviving owner by Right of Survivorship
  • Assets are left in a Trust - any assets left in a Trust will be owned by the Trustees and won’t form part of the Estate

To determine if you need to apply for Probate for the Estate, you need to:

  1. Calculate the value of the Estate’s assets, including any property and belongings – for details of how to do this see House Valuation for Probate
  2. Look at where assets are held e.g. are any in a Trust or owned jointly?
  3. Check the bank provider’s threshold
  4. Talk to a Probate Solicitor for expert legal advice


Applying for Probate

Submitting a Probate application can be a lengthy and complex process. It’ll differ slightly depending on whether or not your loved one left a Will as there are different documents to apply for.

If they left a valid Will, a Grant of Probate must be applied for. If there is no Will, you’ll apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Both of these documents do roughly the same job – they give you the legal right to administer your loved one’s Estate.

Applying for Probate is an important responsibility which can involve a lot of paperwork. This is why many people choose to get expert help from a Probate Solicitor.

Our Probate Solicitors are on hand to help you with as much or as little of the Estate administration as you need us to, whether you just want help with the Probate application, or you want us to handle the entire process from start to finish.

Whatever you decide, we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.

If you’re unsure whether Probate is needed for the Estate you’re dealing with, we can take a look at your case and advise you.

For free legal advice call our Probate Solicitors

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