If the estate is small (below about £10,000) or an asset holder exercises their discretion not to insist on the sight of a Grant, whatever the value of the estate, then it may be possible to access all funds and complete the administration of the estate without applying for a Grant of Probate. (Note: some insurance companies insist on a Grant for any amount over £5,000). Similarly, if all the assets are jointly held and so pass by survivorship to the other joint owner/s, no Grant is needed.
It is not strictly necessary to have a Grant of Representation for a lump sum under a life assurance if the policy has been assigned to a third party (a nominated beneficiary) but Life Companies do sometimes insist on seeing a Grant in addition to the death certificate and identification documents for the person making the claim. As these are quite often policies that pay out small amounts, just a few thousand pounds, it may be possible to approach the company to pay the funeral expenses directly to the funeral director. This often reduces the balance to be paid to below the company’s threshold for a probate request, so the need for a Grant is avoided.
Similarly, Death in Service benefits, where there has been a nomination in favour of a third party, can be paid out without sight of a Grant, provided the Trustees of the scheme agree on the payment.
Dependents’ pensions can also be started before a Grant is issued. However, some companies insist on seeing it as proof to protect themselves from paying out incorrectly.
There is a considerable inconsistency between organizations with what the individual asset holders and organizations require, so it is always best when writing for valuations and information, to ask whether or not they will need to see a Grant before paying out. While this can be very frustrating, the asset holders would argue that they have been entrusted with the money and they need to be completely certain that they are making a payment to the appropriate person.