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Julie Delauve

Probate Executive - Uckfield

Can a bank release funds without probate?

Accounts held in a deceased persons sole name

Can a bank release funds without probate from an account is a question often raised by a spouse or civil partner when their loved one passes away. In short, the answer normally depends on the value of assets held in the deceased persons account at the time of death although this is not always the only deciding factor.

All Banks, Building Societies and other financial institutions will set their own policies and limits that determine if they will release funds without probate and the limits can normally be found on their respective websites. For example, Nationwide specify a limit of £50,000 (at time of writing). A simple internet search for the bank in question, should provide you with general information on limits and policies that determine if your bank will release funds without probate. However, we strongly recommend that you speak directly with the bank to establish their requirements before deciding whether a Grant of Probate is needed.

What is the purpose of probate?

If you are unfamiliar with the process of Probate and what is involved then you can read our key stages of probate guide or check out our dedicated Probate and Estate Management Blog for additional resources and information.

What will a bank require to release funds without probate?

As detailed above, it may not always be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (where the deceased died intestate, ie where there is not a Will) for assets held with a bank or building society in the deceased’s sole name.  Subject to the bank or building society’s limits and policy, it may close an account on sight of a death certificate only. Some banks may also request sight of a certified copy of the Will before closing an account.

What about National Savings & Investments (NS&I) and shareholdings?

Once again this will depend on limits and specific policy details. As an example, if the deceased held premium bonds below a certain amount, NS&I may not need to see a Grant or Probate and will automatically place the premium bonds in their prize draw for a maximum period of 12 months following the month of death. They can be left in the prize draw for the whole of the 12 month period prior to being repaid, or repaid at any time within that period on request.

As to shareholdings and if their value is under a certain threshold, Registrars could agree to sell or transfer the holding, by way of their Small Estates Service, on receipt of a signed Indemnity/Declaration Form.  This may need to be signed by the deceased’s next-of-kin depending on the Registrars’ policy. The Registrar will require sight of the death certificate, together with a cheque to cover their Small Estates Service administrative fees. The Registrars will provide the relevant form(s) and advise of their administrative fees on request.

Accounts held in joint names

For jointly-held bank or building society accounts, or shareholdings held jointly with the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, the organisations with whom these are held will automatically transfer the asset(s) to the surviving partner on sight of a death certificate.

Contact us

For more information on the above, please contact a member of our specialist Probate and Estate Administration Team or email Sharon Rye sharonrye@rixandkay.co.uk or Julie Delauve juliedelauve@rixandkay.co.uk / t: 01825 761555 who will be happy to assist.