It usually takes about 12–18 months to complete Probate in England or Wales when a Will has been made. But every Estate is different in value, size and complexity. All these factors can contribute to making the Probate process longer.
Applying for a Grant of Probate can sometimes be made quicker by having a valid Will, but it ultimately depends on how complicated the Estate is.
Our expert Probate Solicitors can help make the Probate process easier for you by providing differing levels of support depending on your own specific needs.
For free initial advice, please get in touch with our Probate team.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal authority given by the Probate Registry to deal with someone’s Estate after they’ve died. This usually includes collecting their money and assets and distributing them after any debts and taxes have been paid.
They’ve left instructions for who they’d like to deal with their Estate by naming one or more Executors in their Will. If you’ve been named as an Executor of the Will, you and any other Executors are responsible for making sure their wishes are carried out.
Is Probate Needed?
It can be difficult to know whether you need to apply for Probate when someone has died. We’ve outlined here two of the main scenarios when a Grant of Probate is necessary:
- The person who died owned property or land, this can include property co-owned with someone else
- A bank or financial organisation has asked for a Grant of Probate
Reasons to Use a Probate Solicitor
Losing a loved one can be difficult emotionally and the responsibility of the administration of an estate can bring additional stress at a time when you just don’t need that added worry.
By using the services of a Probate Solicitor, you can take away most of the strain of dealing with an Estate and give yourself time to grieve with the knowledge that their wishes are being carried out.
Even if you feel emotionally able to deal with a loved one’s Estate, you may not have the time. This could result in beneficiaries in the Will complaining and may even lead to claims being made against you.
By passing this responsibility on to a Probate Solicitor, you can make sure the Probate process is completed as quickly and smoothly as possible.
What are the Main Stages of the Probate Process?
If you’re an Executor of a Will, you’ll need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This is also known as a Grant of Representation and can take around 4 to 6 months depending on how busy the Probate Registry (Court) is when you apply.
Usually, you’ll need a Grant of Probate in place before you can access any bank accounts. This depends on how much money is in each account as banks and building societies set their own thresholds for when a Grant of Probate is required. It’s worth talking to them to see what their threshold is.
Once you have permission to access the Estate, you’ll need to:
- Value the Estate
- Fill out an Inheritance Tax Form, this will need to be completed whether any Inheritance Tax is owed or not
- Settle any remaining debts
- Collect any money owed to the Estate
- Distribute all assets as instructed in the Will
There are things that could slow down the Probate process. And these delays are more prominent since the Coronavirus pandemic. Some of the common delays are:
- Delays at the Probate Registry
- Issues selling a Probate property
- Having assets outside of the UK such as property abroad
- Will Trusts that must be dealt with separately
- Locating beneficiaries
- Multiple bank accounts
- Complicated share agreements
- Dealing with HMRC if Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax are required
Probate can also be delayed by disagreements between beneficiaries and the Executors of the Will. Our Contentious Probate Solicitors can help you if you find yourself in this situation.
For more detailed information on how long your application might take, get in touch with our Probate team who can give you a clear estimate based on the Estate you’re dealing with.
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 Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.