What Happens If You Don’t Apply For Probate?
Posted on 18th June 2020
If the Personal Representatives (PRs) of an Estate do not apply for Probate when a person dies, their beneficiaries may not be able to receive their Inheritance. This is because the PRs may struggle to deal with collection of any assets. Instead, it is likely that the deceased person’s assets would be frozen and held in a state of limbo, as nobody would have the legal authority to access and sell or transfer them.
You can find out more about the applications required for Probate and who can apply for Probate in our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster’s blog, here.
Do I need to apply for Probate?
When a person dies, whether Probate is required to deal with their Estate will depend on what assets they held. Probate isn’t necessarily required every time someone dies; if their assets are relatively minimal, the PRs may be able to deal with collection of funds in without the legal authority known as Grants of Representation (Probate).
In England and Wales, if the funds held by the deceased were minimal and they did not own any property, it may be that Probate will not be required. Generally, Probate Solicitors will refer to Estates under £5,000.00 as small Estates, which won’t require Probate. However, in reality, Estates that are valued as higher than this may not require Probate, either. To confirm whether Probate will be required for Estates of any value, the PRs will need to contact the organisation or company with which the assets are held, to confirm.
If someone who dies owned a property, whether it will need Probate or not will depend on how it is owned. If a property is held as joint tenants (i.e. by the deceased and another person), the property will pass under what’s known as a Right of Survivorship. This would not require Probate. If the deceased held their property as tenants in common with another person, or in their sole name, Probate will be needed, as the property would not automatically pass to the survivor or the deceased’s beneficiaries.
Like with property, any jointly owned assets such as bank accounts or shares would usually pass to the surviving owner and, if this was the case, Probate would not be required.
What happens if I don’t obtain Probate?
If the PRs decided not to obtain Probate, then usually they would not be able to deal with the deceased’s assets. As explained above, their assets would therefore remain in limbo which, most likely, would not be very satisfactory for the beneficiaries. It could also cause many issues for the family and friends of the deceased in the future.
For example, if a widow does not apply for Probate when her husband dies, as she believes that everything is simply hers, on her death, it could be discovered that the house was in husband’s sole name. Consequently, the PRs will have to deal with Probate on both husbands and wife’s Estate, resulting in significant delays, stress for the beneficiaries and increasing the costs involved.
What should I do if my loved one has died?
Our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster would recommend that the best way to proceed would be ascertain for certain whether Probate is required to deal with a person’s Estate.
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