How much money can be released without probate?
It is up to the executors of a will to handle the financial dealings of the deceased person. Often, this means they have to apply for probate in order to begin to settle their estate.
On being provided with the death certificate; banks, building societies and other financial institutions will automatically freeze the deceased’s accounts until probate has been granted – a process which can often take months or even years, depending on the value and complexity of the estate.
This can obviously cause problems when the undertaker needs to be paid and the inheritance tax bill settled, all before the funds in their entirety are released.
Until recently, banks allowed executors to access a certain amount of money from the late person’s estate, so that at least part of these bills could be paid. This amount usually ranged between £15,000 and £20,000, dependent on the institution. In recent weeks however, some of the more well-known banks have agreed to raise this limit, to allow more funds to be accessed which in turn, may help loved ones who are left with a financial burden.
Lloyds Bank has raised its limit from £25,000 to £50,000, whilst RBS has raised its limit from £15,000 to £25,000.
Whilst this may seem a great deal of money however, families are increasingly feeling the pinch when it comes to laying their loved ones to rest. With the average funeral now costing around £7000, growing numbers are turning to loans and other forms of credit, to pay the undertaker. It makes sense therefore, for adults to consider paying into a funeral plan whilst they still can, to ease the financial strain when they’ve gone.
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A new two-part TV drama is set to examine the mystery of the disappearance of Lord Lucan, in 1974.
The aristocrat was known to be somewhat of a playboy, giving up his job as a merchant banker and becoming what he termed to be a “professional gambler”.
Lord Lucan loved the high life and his own life was said to be so like that of James Bond, that he was even once considered for the role.
It was in 1972, after he had separated from his wife and lost a custody battle that suspicions began to form about his character. The Lord apparently became obsessed with trying to regain his children, even resorting to bugging telephone conversations.
During this time, Lord Lucan undoubtedly continued to gamble and it seemed that his personal finances were in a dreadful state. Finally, it was on 7 November 1974 that Lady Lucan was attacked at home and the children’s nanny was murdered. Lady Lucan identified her estranged husband as the attacker.
After visiting a friend’s house, his car was found abandoned, with blood stains and a piece of bandaged lead pipe inside.
Although a warrant was issued for his arrest and the inquest named him as the murderer, Lucan was never seen again. He was officially declared dead in 1999, but a death certificate has never been issued, turning this sequence of events one of the biggest mysteries of the twentieth century.
A recent newspaper article revealed that a woman was so frustrated by a bank’s refusal to halt increasing fees on her late father’s account, that she finally went into the branch with his ashes, to proved that he was indeed deceased.
Shortly after his death, a charge occurred on his account. Because the woman did not initially provide the original death certificates as requested, the bank was not able to formally register the account as closed, and the charges increased significantly to £625.
For some reason, she did not supply the original documentation as requested. It was only after the debt was passed to a debt recovery agency did she take action by taking the original certificate and an urn containing her late father’s ashes into the branch.
This unnecessary drama highlights the need for the executor of an estate to be made fully aware of the procedures and requirements following the death of their loved one. Most financial institutions and many creditors will request the original death certificate, rather than a photocopy. For this reason, it’s always advisable to have several copies certified. This then means that these copies can be treated as the original, and the scenario above can be averted very quickly and easily.