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Banks to raise limits on how much cash can be released without probate

Britain’s biggest banks are increasing the amount of money they will release from customers’ accounts to bereaved relatives without them first having to apply for probate.

When someone dies, banks and building societies will typically freeze their accounts until the person in charge of dealing with their will – the executor – has applied for an official document known as a grant of probate. This process can take months or even years if the estate is very complicated and also incurs a £215 probate application fee.
In the meantime, the executor is able to access only the money necessary to pay for the funeral and inheritance-tax bills.

However, some banks & building societies will allow bereaved customers dealing with relatively small amounts of money to bypass this admin-heavy task and close accounts with just a death certificate.

Each organisation has its own limit on how much it will release without a grant of probate but in general it used to be around £15,000 to £20,000. To help make life easier for those wrapping up a deceased relative’s estate, a number of High Street banks have now increased their limit.

LLoyds Bank has raised its limit from £25,000 to £50,000 and Royal Bank of Scotland from £15,000 to £25,000. HSBC has removed its £20,000 limit altogether and has said it will now assess all cases individually. Nationwide has confirmed that it is currently reviewing its probate limit.

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