Here are three scenarios where probate is not required:

1. Estates worth less than £15,000

In most cases financial institutions, such as banks and insurance companies waive their right to ask for probate where the estate is worth less than £15,000. Instead, they will release the funds to the executor up on the production of the original death certificate and completion of an account closure form (although the form may need to be witnessed by a solicitor). The bank or building society will confirm to the executor whether they require probate or not to close the account.

2. Assets owned Jointly

Probate is not required for assets that are owned in joint names, for example joint bank accounts or jointly owned property (as joint tenants rather than tenants in common). Where this is the case, up on the death of one of the joint owners, the law of survivorship means the that the asset automatically becomes the property of the surviving joint owner – even if the Will states otherwise. The bank should change the account over to the surviving joint owner automatically following notification of the death.

3. Assets that do not form part of the estate

For example an employer’s “death in service” benefit payable from a pension scheme. In this case the benefit is paid at the discretion of the Trustees of the pension scheme. Often there is a “nomination of benefit” form in these circumstances which will guide the Trustees.