Widow faces paying thousands of pounds to access £48,000 Premium Bonds inherited from her husband

Stock image of woman looking worried at laptop

A widow (not pictured) has been given a quote of £2,676 for a solicitor to do the grant of probate

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 09/01/2024

- 08:20

Updated: 09/01/2024

- 16:45

The widow said she thinks it’s very unfair she has to spend so much on a solicitor to access the NS&I savings

A widow is facing forking out more than £2,600 to access the £48,000 Premium Bonds savings left to her by her late husband.

Mrs Jones, whose name has been changed, is the sole beneficiary and executor of her husband’s Will but has been told as the Premium Bonds holding exceeds £5,000, she will need to apply for Probate due to NS&I rules. The NS&I website says the limit is £5,000, but NS&I has indicated that in some circumstances, the threshold is £30,000.

She has been quoted £2,669.75 for a solicitor to deal with this matter.

Mrs Jones told GB News: “I’m scared of the costs. I need these savings now to start paying the bills.”

“I am devastated,” she added. “I have spent our savings on funeral costs.

Do you have a money problem you'd like GB News to investigate? Get in touch by emailing money@gbnews.uk.

Person signing Last Will and Testament documents

The widow is the sole beneficiary and executor of her husband’s Will


“It’s very wrong that a widow can’t do this without losing so much to a solicitor. I don’t understand why you have to forgo so much in savings just to withdraw your own money.”

The couple, who were married for more than 60 years, had each invested money in Premium Bonds after a windfall.

Mrs Jones said: “I miss him dreadfully. He was the bravest man I’ve ever met.”

Mr Jones left everything he had to his wife, and in the months after his diagnosis last year, they discussed withdrawing the Premium Bonds and investing the money instead to help Mrs Jones get by.

Before he sadly passed away from a terminal illness last summer, Mr Jones phoned NS&I to try to withdraw his Premium Bonds, but they didn’t get any further that day, Mrs Jones claimed.

NS&I said they have looked at Mr Jones’ account and do not have a record of a request to withdraw funds last summer.

Mrs Jones told GB News: “We sat together and transferred all other accounts before he died.

“We also rang NS&I to do the same with his Premium Bonds but they would not do it at that time – something to do with him having a terminal illness.

“But he was not mentally impaired at all.”

An NS&I spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of the passing of Mr Jones*, and that Mrs Jones has concerns about being required to provide a Grant of Probate.

“NS&I, as a public authority, is managed under the National Savings Bank Act 1971, which requires Grant of Probate for savings over £5,000.

“However, for claims where the beneficiary is the sole executor/beneficiary we have raised it to over £30,000.”

Carolyn Matravers, chartered financial planner at SOLLA accredited adviser and director at later life specialist financial advisers Bluebell Financial Management, told GB News: “There is a legal aspect to obtaining a Grant of Probate but other professional firms, such as accountants, are increasingly becoming authorised to deal with the whole Estate Administration process from start to finish.

“The reader could apply for Probate herself but the whole process can be daunting and they would need to complete a legal undertaking in their role as Executor.

“As an Executor, you have a legal responsibility for the rest of your life (not everyone realises that) so it is important that any information disclosed and submitted is as accurate to the best of their knowledge.

“This is where professional guidance is helpful. With hindsight, cash could have been held differently to prevent this additional cost to the estate.

“At Bluebell Financial Management we support clients gathering this information and I would be happy to talk to the reader about the details.

“The cost quoted does sound high to deal with this in isolation, but it’s important to note the details of the entire estate – it is unlikely that the only asset is a premium bond – and the size of the estate, the type of assets held will affect the nature of work required and the associated costs.

“In any event, I would always suggest requesting a full breakdown of what the fees cover to ensure that comparisons can be made.”

NS&I said the government-backed savings provider will let the person entitled to the savings know whether a Grant of Representation (also known as a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration) is required.

If the savings held with NS&I are over £5,000, then they may ask for a Grant of Probate.

The government-backed savings provider said this £5,000 limit exists because, as a public authority, they have “responsibilities to ensure that public funds are protected and not put at risk”.

They added: “As a public authority, our risk policies are different to other commercial organisations.”

Furthermore, NS&I’s Director of Savings reserves the right to request a Grant of Representation for a claim of any value.

Premium Bonds and inheritance

NS&I says Premium Bonds cannot be inherited or transferred to another person, but they can remain in the monthly Premium Bonds draws for up to 12 months after the customer has died.

After the 12-month period has passed, the face value of the Premium Bonds will be repaid to the deceased customer’s estate, along with any prizes they may win in the 12-month period.

NS&I says to keep the Bonds in the draw, the person responsible for the deceased customer’s finances should tell NS&I this on the bereavement claims form they fill out.

Any Premium Bonds prizes won will be paid by prize cheque after the prize draw to the person entitled to the money (for example the estate’s executor).

NS&I will hold onto any outstanding prizes won until NS&I has completed the bereavement claim and they will then be issued.

Once the bereavement claim has been completed, NS&I will then send any future prizes won by cheque after each prize draw to the person entitled to the money.

NS&I said they cannot pay these prizes electronically and they cannot consolidate them and pay them at the end of the 12 months.

*GB News has changed the couple's names.

You may like