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When Is Probate Needed?

photo of scrabble letters spelling "probate" on gray surface

One of the main questions we get asked by clients is ‘do I need to get Probate?’. The answer is not always a simple yes or no. To determine whether or not probate is needed we need to look at what assets were held by the deceased at the time of their death.

Before banks and financial institutions will release funds of a deceased person’s account they need to know they are dealing with an authorised representative of the estate. The Grant of Probate provides them with this assurance. As grants are not always needed it is important to contact each individual asset holder to determine whether they require Probate. This is a process that we take in obtaining a Grant of Probate for an estate, as we have dealt with numerous asset holders we have a good understanding when they will require a grant of probate.

Some instances where a Grant of Probate is required include –

  • where the deceased held a bank account in their sole name with more than $50,000 (this amount could be different, it depends on the financial institution);
  • if the deceased held a large sum of shares in their sole name or as tenants in common with another person;
  • if the deceased held property in their own name or as tenants in common with another person.

If the deceased held all their assets jointly with their surviving spouse, the right of survivorship states that the surviving spouse will inherit the jointly owned assets. Therefore, no Grant of Probate is required.  This will simply be a matter of transferring the assets to the surviving spouse as sole proprietor.

If the deceased owned property in their name as sole proprietor or as tenants in common with another proprietor, a Grant of Probate is always required. The only time Probate will not be required with transferring property is if the right of survivorship, as mentioned above, applies.

When a loved one dies, there is already so much you have to deal with and the last thing you need is more paperwork. We can take away the added stress of paperwork at this difficult time. Call us and we can talk you through whether a Grant of Probate is needed and how we can help with this process.