If my husband or wife dies, do I require probate?

If your husband or wife dies and leaves behind assets that aren't jointly owned with you, you may seek probate. Probate may not be necessary if you are a joint owner of their property and bank accounts.

Matthew Ridyard avatar

Matthew Ridyard

07 January 2022

Is there a requirement for probate between husband and wife?

If all of the assets in the estate were jointly owned, there is no requirement for probate. This contains items such as:

  • Property

  • Accounts in a bank

  • Building society accounts

  • Savings accounts

However, if the estate contains additional assets worth more than £10,000 that were entirely owned by them, probate may be necessary. This contains items such as:

  • Accounts with other banks and building societies

  • Personal savings accounts

  • Pensions

  • Stocks and shares

  • ISAs

  • Life insurance

Is it necessary to have probate between civil partners?

Probate isn't required between civil partners for any jointly owned assets, including as property, bank accounts, building society accounts, and savings, just as it isn't required between married couples. This law applies to everyone with whom you have shared assets, including your husband, civil partner, acquaintance, or relative.

If the estate contains solely held assets worth more than £10,000, you may need a grant of probate or letters of administration before you can access them.

What is the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common?

You can own property with another individual in one of two ways: as joint tenants or as tenants in common. When dealing with your husband or wife's estate, it's critical to know the difference because it can affect whether or not you need to apply for probate.

We'll go through each sort of ownership in depth below to assist you figure out who owns your property.

Joint tenants

Each tenant has equal rights to the entire property if it is owned as joint tenants. This means that if one of the tenants passes away, the surviving renter inherits the entire property.

For those who are married or in a civil partnership, this is the most prevalent type of ownership.

Tenants in common

Each tenant owns a part of the entire property if it is owned as tenants in common. If one of the tenants passes away, their share of the property becomes part of their inheritance. This will then pass according to the terms of their will, or in the absence of a will, by intestacy.

Unmarried couples or friends taking their initial steps on the property ladder prefer this style of ownership, however married couples and civil partners can also own property as tenants in common.

If you're the executor of your husband or wife's estate, here's how to get probate

You may need to petition for probate before you may administer your spouse's or civil partner's estate if you were named executor in their will.

We'll go over the most important measures to take before closing accounts and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

1. Determine the value of the estate

You'll need to create a picture of your spouse's or civil partner's estate in order to determine whether probate is required. Property, bank and building society accounts, savings, loans, stocks and shares, life insurance, and pensions are all examples of this.

If you have solely owned assets worth more than £10,000, you'll almost certainly need to obtain a grant of probate before distributing payments to beneficiaries. For some organisations, however, this figure may be higher.

2. Submit an application for probate

You'll need to prepare your probate application once you've determined that you require a grant of probate. It's critical to get started right away so that beneficiaries don't have to wait for their inheritance.

3. Administer the estate

You can begin closing accounts, selling or transferring property, and distributing assets to the beneficiaries designated in the will once your grant of probate has been approved.

If the estate is straightforward, you may be able to handle it on your own. However, if there are several accounts to manage or inheritance tax to pay, this process can become extremely complicated.

How do you become the executor of your husband or wife's estate?

If your husband, wife, or civil partner died without a will, the rules of intestacy will apply to you. This means that you will receive the first £270,000 of their estate, plus 50% of whatever is left.

As the estate's primary beneficiary, you'll need to apply to be the administrator. You will receive a grant of letters of administration at the conclusion of this process. This will give you the legal authority to deal with their estate in the same way that an executor does when a will is present.

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