How Long Does Probate Take if there’s No Will?

Katherine Green
Private Client Solicitor

Whether there is a Will or not, there’s really no obvious difference in how long Probate will take. It really does depend on the actual Estate itself – how many assets, the amount of wealth, how many beneficiaries and if there are any tax issues to sort out.

We advise clients in England and Wales that Probate can take somewhere between 6 and 9 months, and if we find there’s no Will, we’ll explain the Intestacy Rules (inheritance laws) that govern how the deceased person’s Estate will be administered.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Probate Solicitors.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

Applying for Probate

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, this is known as ‘dying Intestate’. This means they’ve left no one in charge to administer their wealth and property and distribute it to any beneficiaries.

In this instance, a relative (usually the spouse or civil partner) can apply for Letters of Administration. This is granted by the Probate Registry (Court) and legally appoints that person as the Administrator of the Estate.

What to Do before Applying for Probate

Before applying for Probate, the Executor or Administrator must:

  • Obtain details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities at the date they died
  • Have all the Estate assets valued
  • Determine what was owed and pay off any debts
  • Create Estate accounts detailing all assets and liabilities
  • Complete the correct Probate application form
  • Calculate any Inheritance Tax owed and complete the correct IHT form
  • Pay any Inheritance Tax

We recommend that you have a professional value the Estate and its contents. If there is a property to be sold, then it’s best to have it valued to its current market value.

Any taxes due will be paid by the Estate. Inheritance Tax (IHT) should be dealt with as soon as possible because there can be late payment charges, so it’s better to apply for Probate sooner rather than later.

When you use our Full Probate Service we will administer the Estate, deal with the Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains and Income Tax matters and deal with HMRC, prepare full Estate accounts and correspond with all the beneficiaries.

We’ll also return passports to the passport office, deal with house clearance, house insurance and utility bills, check for missing assets or policies and protect the Estate against unknown creditors.

To speak with a Probate specialist call 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

After Applying for Probate

You will usually get the Grant of Probate within 8 weeks of sending in your documents.

Sometimes this might take longer so we advise not to make any financial plans based on the date you expect to receive it. Check the documentation you receive carefully if you find that there are any errors, you should return it to the Probate Registry.

It’s best to request and pay for additional copies of the official Grant of Probate document as official copies will need to be provided to banks and financial organisations that hold the assets of the person who died; before they will release any funds.

Once Probate has been granted you can start to deal with the Estate.

Why the Probate Process May Take Longer

Once the Grant of Probate has been secured, the Probate process can get underway. How easy this proves to be depends entirely on the complexity of the Estate. Every Estate is different and complications may arise from:

HMRC disputes

  • Locating estranged beneficiaries
  • Trouble selling properties due to conveyancing or finding a buyer
  • Department of Work and Pensions may be investigating whether the deceased received too much in state benefits
  • Trouble selling foreign properties
  • Difficulty in selling shares and dealing with the administration that comes with this

We’re not saying that you’re going to run into these issues either, as it depends on the Estate itself. The main thing to remember is that you could just as easily face obstacles like the ones above if the deceased person did, in fact, make a Will.

Who Can Apply for Probate?

If a person dies Intestate, then this has a bearing on who can apply for Probate and administer the Estate.

If there is a Will, the Executor applies for the Grant. A beneficiary can apply if there are no Executors willing to act.

If there is no Will, the person with the most priority to the Estate should complete the application for Letters of Administration.

The law dictates who is responsible and within this, there comes an order of priority.

Normally, a spouse or civil partner would become the Executor of the Estate, but this person may already have died, in which case the role of Executor would fall to the next person in this list, which is as follows:

  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Grandparents

Is Probate a Painful Process?

Losing someone close is difficult, and we’re not here to hurry you along or make you feel there are overbearing time constraints, so when you choose to apply for Probate is really up to you.

However, some people find that getting the Probate process underway quickly can help put their mind at rest and keep busy. It can actually be an effective way to deal with grief. However, not everyone is the same and some people will choose to wait a little until they feel right. Whichever way you decide; our Probate Solicitors can help you.

We will provide a sensitive approach to understanding your situation, and advise you in the best way possible to deal with the Probate process as quickly as possible.

What is My Best Course of Action?

You don’t have to use a Probate Solicitor when applying for and dealing with the Probate process, but lots of people do. There’s a lot of time and paperwork involved, along with complicated legal and tax matters; which may also include Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax. If any mistakes are made, an Executor or Administrator can be held personally and financially liable.

With our Full Probate Service, you can hand all the work over to us. We deal with the entire Probate process for you, and our Probate fees are paid out from the 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 Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.