Is a grant of probate necessary?

Written by Terry Johansson | 13th September 2013

If there is a Will, it is usually necessary to obtain a grant of Probate, and to distribute the assets in accordance with the terms of the Will.  If there is no Will, it is necessary to obtain Letters of Administration to distribute the assets in accordance with the Intestacy Rules of the State.

However, there are some exceptions to the requirement to obtain probate. Usually, these exceptions are where the value of the net estate is very small, where all of the deceased’s property is owned jointly with another person as ‘joint tenants’, or if the estate is insolvent and unable to pay its debts.

If property is owned by two or more people as “joint tenants”, then the share of the deceased will automatically and immediately pass to the others on the death of the deceased. The property will then be owned solely by the surviving owners who can deal with the property as they wish. Check details of the title. Click here for more information.

As most married people own their home as joint tenants, you should check the title as soon as you can.  If your home is held by you and the deceased as joint tenants, probate is not required for that asset, as the house will pass outside of the Will of the deceased. Your home will not be considered to be part of the Estate.

Sometimes, banks and other financial institutions are prepared to release funds from the deceased’s bank accounts before Probate is granted. This will be at the bank or financial institution’s discretion.

The procedure and requirements in order for this to occur will vary from company to company, so you should contact the deceased’s bank or other financial institution directly to discuss this process.

Typically, they may release up to $15,000 upon production of the registered death certificate. Click here for more information.

Some companies may also be prepared to transfer or pay out the value of shares belonging to the deceased without probate. The release of these funds without probate can be useful for an executor, who must pay funeral expenses and Inheritance Tax, rather than having to obtain a loan. Click here for more information.

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