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Is Probate Required If There Is A Surviving Spouse?

Probate is the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. A grant of probate needs to be applied for, as this will confirm the executor’s rights (or administrator’s rights if there is no will) when it comes to distributing elements of the estate.

Many people think that probate is something that is always needed, no matter what the circumstances of someone’s death, or their life. However, that isn’t so – in some cases probate is not required at all. When there is a surviving spouse (or civil partner) then often probate is not needed, although this will depend on other factors as well. It isn’t that there are special exemptions for probate when there is a spouse or partner, it’s just that there are usually very few assets that are held solely in the deceased person’s name; most will be joint. When this is the case, those assets will usually be passed straight to the surviving spouse and they will become the sole owner.

You will need to apply for a grant of probate even if there is a surviving partner or spouse if there are significant assets that are held in the deceased person’s name only. This might be a property, or savings of high value, or perhaps stocks and shares and so on.

It is always wise to seek guidance and advice, particularly when you are the executor or administrator of an estate. There will be serious legal and financial penalties if probate is not applied for when it should be, and therefore gaining some expert insight is advised.

Even if probate is not required, it is important for the executor or administrator to inform any institutions where the deceased held any form of account so that the assets can be transferred to the surviving spouse, and the account closed down. These kinds of institutions and assets include pensions, utility companies, phone companies, broadband and TV providers, and subscriptions including Netflix, Amazon, and the professional arm of LinkedIn.

Tony Crocker