After a death, an estate executor or administrator is responsible for winding up the deceased’s affairs. This may include obtaining a Grant of Probate. We take a look at when banks will ask for a grant before releasing funds.

In some situations, it is not necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate after someone dies. This includes when the deceased left a ‘small’ estate, although there is no exact legal definition of a small estate. Generally speaking, if the deceased left a property or more than £15,000 in other assets, you will usually need to apply for a Grant of Probate. If the deceased did not leave a Will, then the application is for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

Bank limits for Grant of Probate

However, if most of the deceased’s assets were held in a bank account, it will depend on the individual bank as to whether a Grant of Probate is needed. Each bank has set its own limit above which it requires a Grant of Probate.

You will need to add up the total amount held by the deceased with each particular bank if they had more than one account. Some banks will require probate if the entire estate is above their specified level.

Banks change their limits regularly, so you will need to check the exact amount when dealing with someone’s estate. By way of guidance, many banks set the limit at £50,000, although some are as low as £20,000 and National Savings and Investments (NS&I) requires a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration for holdings of £5,000 or more. NS&I holdings include Premium Bonds.

Documents required by banks after a death

Banks will ask for several documents before they will close an account. These will generally include:

  • An original copy of the death certificate
  • Proof of identification
  • A completed account closure form

If a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration is required, an official sealed copy should be sent to them.

Where a grant is not necessary, the bank will ask you to sign a small estates indemnity confirming that you will act in accordance with the deceased’s Will or, where they did not leave a Will, the Rules of Intestacy which set out who is entitled to inherit.

Applying for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration

If you do need to apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration, you will need to value the estate first. If Inheritance Tax is payable, this must be settled before the application can be made.

The probate application form will then need to be completed and the application fee paid to the Probate Registry.

Once the grant has been received, the estate’s executor (or administrator, if they did not leave a Will) needs to deal with the winding up of the deceased’s affairs or alternatively instruct a solicitor to do this on behalf of the estate.

It is important to follow the correct procedure and avoid errors as an executor or administrator, as there is personal liability for any mistakes made that cause loss to the estate, even if they were genuine errors.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert estate planners, ring us on 01634 353 658 or email us at