How Long Does Probate Take When there is a Will?
The Probate process can sometimes be quicker if there is a valid Will, but it really does depends on how complicated the Estate is.
It usually takes about 12 months to complete Probate in England or Wales, but every Estate is different in value, size and complexity. All of these factors can result in Probate taking longer.
By choosing our Probate Solicitors to complete the Probate process for you, we can make sure that everything goes as quickly and smoothly as it possibly can.
For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Probate Solicitors.
What is Probate?
Probate is a process allowing you to deal with someone’s Estate after they die. An Estate includes any property, money and possessions. Because they left a Will, they’ve left instructions about who they want to deal with their Estate by naming one or more Executors. If you’ve been named in their Will as Executor, you and any other Executors are responsible for making sure their wishes are carried out.
The Probate process takes around twelve months to complete and with really complicated Estates, it could take longer.
Reasons to Use a Probate Solicitor
You can deal with Probate yourself, but there could be around 100 hours of detailed administrative work to complete, and you can be held liable if any mistakes are made in the Estate accounts or on any tax forms; which is why many people use a Probate Solicitor. In almost all cases the Probate Solicitors fees are paid for by the Estate and not by the Executor or Administrator of the Estate.
Losing a friend or family member can be difficult emotionally, so our Probate Solicitors can take all the administration work from you to lighten the load and give you the time to grieve.
Life is often very busy these days, so you may not have the time to spend dealing with the administration of their Estate. By passing this burden on to a Probate Solicitor means that the Probate process is completed as soon as possible.
As Executor of a Will, it’s your legal responsibility to complete the administration the Estate. If you take too long, there is every chance that the beneficiaries who will benefit from the Will could complain about you. Dealing with beneficiaries can be time consuming and costly.
The Probate Process Explained
If you’re an appointed Executor, you’ll need to apply for a legal document called Grant of Probate, also known as a Grant of Representation. This can take around 4 to 6 months depending on how busy the Probate Registry (Court) is at the time of your application.
Your main role as Executor is to carry out the wishes of the person who died as outlined in their Will. This relates to how they want their Estate to be given out and to whom.
You often can’t start accessing bank accounts before you have the Grant of Probate in place, but it often depends how much money is in those accounts. Most banks and building societies set their own thresholds for when a Grant of Probate is required. These can be as low as £5,000 and as high as £25,000 so it’s always worth talking to them to see what their threshold is.
Once you can access all of the Estate assets, you’ll need to make sure:
- All debts are paid
- Any money owed to the Estate is collected
- The Estate is valued
- An Inheritance Tax form is completed, whether any Inheritance Tax is owed or not
- All assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as instructed in the Will
There could be delays in completing the Probate Process. Some of the most common issues that cause delays are:
- Issues selling a Probate property
- Having international assets such as property abroad
- Trusts in the Will that must be dealt with separately
- Any overpayment of state benefits
- Locating beneficiaries
- Multiple bank accounts
- Complicated share agreements
- Dealing with HMRC as Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax forms may also be required.
With a Probate Solicitor handling all these requirements, you should get through this process in about 12 months for a small Estate.
For free legal advice call our Probate Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Bristol, Cardiff, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.