Probate is a long administrative process, and because there are so many variables involved, few cases are the same. This can be frustrating, as in many cases, the reason you need a Grant of Probate is to get hold of the assets, either for yourself if you are a beneficiary or for the beneficiaries if you are acting as an Executor or personal representative on their behalf.
So, how long does Probate take? On average, you should expect the Probate process to take 9 months from the date of death through to completion. Typically, we see Probate cases taking between 6 – 12 months, depending on the complexity and size of the Estate Probate is being applied on.
Where the deceased left a Will for a relatively straightforward Estate, then 6 months should be quite easy to achieve. Where the deceased has died Intestate, without a Will, or if the Estate cannot easily be valued or identified, then 12 months is more likely to be a realistic timeframe.
Why does Probate take so long?
The duration of Probate depends on the size and complexity, as well as the makeup of the Estate, coupled with the capacity, and capability of the person or persons administering the Estate. Expect the Probate process to take longer than you’d think and quicker than you hoped!
What is Probate?
Probate may be required when someone passes away. It refers to the ‘Grant of Probate’, officially known as the ‘Grant of Representation’ in England and Wales and ‘Confirmation’ in Scotland.
Probate is just one part of the wider Estate Administration process. Probate provides you with the legal right to carry out the Estate Administration, including dealing with property, money, and personal possessions.
Probate is required by law if the Estate is worth more than £5,000 in value, if the deceased owned any property, or if a financial institution (e.g. a bank or building society) needs to see the ‘Grant of Representation’ in order to release the funds.
Probate will not be needed if the assets were held jointly as they will automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner under the Rules of Survivorship.
Do I need to make a Probate Application?
In the vast majority of circumstances, you will need to make a Probate Application. A Probate Letter of Administration is needed to deal with an Estate that includes property. Even where a house, flat, or other main residence does not form part of the deceased Estate, Letters of Administration or a Grant of Probate are likely to be required unless the following principles apply:
- The Estate comprises cash, personal belongings like a car, jewellery, and furniture
- Any property within the Estate is owned as beneficial joint tenants, as the property automatically passes to the other owner
- The deceased person shared a joint bank account, as this passes to the other named account holder
- The value of the estate is small and comprises of cash, usually £5,000 or less
- The Estate of the deceased person is insolvent and has insufficient funds to settle any outstanding debts, inheritance tax or other taxes, and expenses
- There are only certain Pension Benefits and Life Insurance policies in the Estate
- Assets of the deceased person held in Trust do not need to go through the Probate process
A Probate Application is a legal process that must be fully complied with. We would always recommend that you seek professional help and advice when dealing with a Grant of Probate to ensure that you have clarity about and fully comply with your legal obligations and duties.
The Administrative Process
The administrative process to apply for a Grant of Probate is quite long-winded, can be complex, and because there are so many variables involved, the time it takes to complete the Estate Administration can often feel long are rather bureaucratic.
There are application forms to complete and submit, requiring the person administering the Estate to find, check and report on a lot of different elements that make up the Estate, for example, any bank accounts that the deceased person held must be notified as part of the Probate process.
HMRC & Inheritance Tax Liabilities
Once submitted to the Probate Registry and possibly HMRC, if the Estate has an Inheritance Tax liability, these agencies have to complete their own internal checks and balances on the submission before a Grant of Probate can be made.
HMRC can make Inheritance Tax claims up to 6 months after the date of death, while the Work and Pensions Department investigations and claims can take months or even years to conclude!
Statutory Notice Periods
There are many administrative barriers to cross when dealing with Probate. For example, there is a requirement to publish the death and a statutory period of two months from the date of advertisement for creditors and others who may wish to make a claim to come forward.
Third-Party Inheritance Claims
If someone feels they have not been provided for financially, for example, a man excludes his wife from any inheritance; they may have cause to make an Inheritance Claim which again can drag on for many years and at a great cost.
Funding Estate Debts
It is only when the Grant of Probate has been issued to the Executor of the Estate that the deceased’s bank accounts can be emptied and closed, property sold, and assets disposed of, according to the wishes in the Will.
As a result, beneficiaries can find themselves in a position of having to take out loans to fund debts such as Inheritance Tax liabilities before the Probate Process can be completed.
No Will Left by the Deceased
The length of time can be considerably longer when no Will exists or cannot be found. Under the Rules of Intestacy, the Government will appoint an official to decide who will be the Trustee(s) responsible for completing Probate and ensure the Estate is distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.
The Capacity and Capability of the Person Applying for Probate
Thankfully, few of us have to apply for Probate more than once or twice in our lifetime. However, it is that very lack of experience that can mean the time that some Executors or a loved one take when applying for Probate can take longer while they make sure they have accurately reported Probate to the Probate Registry.
They may well have busy lives themselves, and so finding the capacity in their own hectic schedule can make the process of Probate take longer.
This is another great reason to utilise the services of a Probate specialist service like Redwood’s, which will guide you through all of the complexities and ensure an accurate submission to the Probate Registry.
How long after Probate is granted does it take to receive an Inheritance?
This will depend on the complexity of the case, but typically the expectation across England and Wales is that Probate takes 6 – 9 months for beneficiaries to receive their Inheritance. However, we recommend to our Clients that they have an expectation that Probate will take up to 12 months to make sure that the Probate Registry has had adequate time to conclude the Probate process.
In the rare cases where an Estate has no property, a single bank account, and no other complexities, Beneficiaries could be receiving their Inheritance within 3 months.
Award-Winning Probate Solicitors
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We have partnered with an established, award-winning Probate Solicitor to provide all the legal work and sign-off for your Probate application, enabling us to offer this service at a highly competitive cost, underpinned by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Let our experts take the stress of worry off your shoulders and reduce the time it takes to conclude your Probate application.