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Do I need probate to access bank accounts?
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# 1
miss_eagle
Old 05-11-2011, 8:33 PM
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Default Do I need probate to access bank accounts?

Not sure if this is the correct place for this post, but here goes....

My father recently died and I am executor of the estate. He had no property and no home contents really worth anything, so furniture etc has been given to the local charity shop. I was surprised to find that he had just over £12k in his current account (I suppose due to being ill and not spending money for some tim...)

The bank (Natwest) said they could release up to £15k to me without a grant of probate. This has now been processed, and minus funeral costs, apx £9k was remaining on closure of the account (though I have not yet banked the cheque).

I have subsequently come across (in untidy paperwork) two savings account – one with apx £5k; the other with £2k. Re the £5k (in Santander) I wasn't asked about other monies or probate and they said they could release up to £25k to me. For the £2k (Nationwide) I have to complete a form, signed by a solicitor or commissioner for oaths (assume this is just to confirm I have authority to access funds??). The form suggests that under £15k probate is not required.

I am confused about whether I should be applying for probate. Only Natwest mentioned probate. I did ask what would happen if there turned out to be additional funds in other banks, and they said that it was at the discretion of those banks concerned.

Am I in any way bound to tell Natwest about additional funds as this represents a change to the estate? Also, I read that I should apply for probate if funds total more than £15k; elsewhere I have seen mention of £5k. But is this a guideline and banks etc have their own policies? Given that Santander will release up to £25k, I am particularly confused…..

Would welcome any advice. Many thanks
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# 2
opinions4u
Old 05-11-2011, 8:48 PM
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Banks have their own particular rules that you will need to follow.

In the case of Nat West, you have acted in good faith, so there will be no need to "reverse" what's already been arranged.

As executor, you have a legal duty to wind the estate up and distribute the funds in accordance with the will. If there is any property involved, then probate must be obtained. If the estate is only cash saved in banks, and all those banks are willing to release funds without probate, then I see no need to obtain it. That said, for the sake of £90ish out of the estate, it can effectively confirm your legal right to act. So I'd get it.

Either way, keep good records of all transactions and distributions of cash. You are potentially liable for any mistakes you make.
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# 3
ses6jwg
Old 05-11-2011, 9:28 PM
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Santander do not require probate unless the total holdings within the Santander Group are more than £25k. Holdings elsewhere are not included.

I believe if holdings are more than £5k then a solicitor/ commissioner for oaths will need to countersign the deceased customer account instruction forms. You will also be required to present a copy of the will (if avaliable) as well as 2 forms of ID for yourself.
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# 4
Mikeyorks
Old 05-11-2011, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miss_eagle View Post
I am confused about whether I should be applying for probate.
The 'official' (HMRC / DirectGov / Probate office) limit is £5k. But all then go on to mention 'variability'.

As you're finding things (not unusual) by degrees - you need to check for Insurance policies. As they will often trip you up by insisting on Probate for very small amounts. If that's the case then you have to go the Probate route.

Then you need to check that the Bank documentation doesn't insist on Probate 'if you are applying for other purposes'.

But if no property / Stocks shares / Insurance policies ....... and all the Banks will deal with you informally? Then simply do it that way.
If you want to test the depth of the water .........don't use both feet !
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# 5
Mikeyorks
Old 06-11-2011, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikeyorks View Post
But if no property / Stocks shares / Insurance policies ....... and all the Banks will deal with you informally? Then simply do it that way.

Whoops. Doesn't change anything ..... but don't forget HMRC. If any tax has been deducted at all (Pensions / Savings accounts) this year - then it's possibly partially or wholly refundable. As full personal allowances are due for the year.

HMRC will normally issue an R27 (Potential Repayment to the Estate) automatically some few weeks after DWP alert them a State Pension has stopped. If not - ask them for one. I normally do my own computation ....... but the R27 is easier.
If you want to test the depth of the water .........don't use both feet !
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# 6
thor
Old 10-11-2011, 7:12 PM
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If some banks require probate while others don't then does that mean you will need to get probate for all of them regardless? The reason I say this is because I thought executors have to declare all accounts they can find.
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