Fixed Probate Fees, call:

0800 612 6105

Alternatively local rate:

020 8150 2010

Does Everything Go Through Probate?

The simple answer is no, not everything will automatically go through probate. Anything that has only the deceased’s name in the title will need to be probated, and that will include bank accounts, property, vehicles, investments and so on. The probate court is the only body that can take the deceased’s name off a deed and put the beneficiary’s name on it.

However, if anything is jointly owned, then it is unlikely to have to go through probate. They will instead transfer automatically to the surviving owner. Assets that are in a trust also often avoid going through probate. This is not always the case, though, and will need to be checked by the appropriate authorities, just in case.

If both owners of a jointly owned asset die at the same time, then the asset will need to be probated before it can be given to the beneficiary. Transfer of ownership will happen automatically when the first owner dies if the asset is jointly owned, so even if your will states that someone else should inherit, the asset is legally not yours to give away. The surviving owner can choose to either follow your wishes or keep the asset themselves – it is their decision to make, and what is written in the will makes no difference in this instance.

Being tenants-in-common is a different type of joint ownership. If you die first, your share is distributed exactly as your will dictates – if there is no will then it will be distributed as per the rules of intestacy. So the deceased has control of what happens with their share, but it will need to go through probate before it can be distributed.

In some cases, assets such as insurance policies and bank accounts allow you to name a beneficiary when you set them up. When you die, those assets will be paid directly to your beneficiary without needing to go through probate. There are some circumstances when that does not happen including when the beneficiary has died first or is incapacitated, if the beneficiary is a minor, or if you choose to simply list ‘my estate’ (or similar) rather than naming an individual.

Trust assets avoid probate, unless it is a testamentary trust. This kind of trust will need to go through probate.

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