How Soon Should I Start Probate after Death?

Nadia Rimmer
Nadia Morgan
Associate Solicitor Advocate

There really is no official time limit in place, but it’s important to start Probate as soon as you can so that you don’t miss any important deadlines. The Executor or Administrator of the Estate could also face serious penalties if they don’t start Probate at all.

Handling someone’s whole Estate and assets after they pass away can feel like a massive undertaking. It can affect people in very different ways - some people like to start applying for Probate straight away while others may feel they need to take some time to gather their thoughts. Probate is flexible enough to accommodate both of these scenarios.

However, it is important to understand the deadlines that do exist so that you can avoid any fines or penalties.

Inheritance Tax Deadlines

If you answer yes to the following questions, Inheritance Tax may not be due:

  • Is the Estate value below the £325,000 threshold or the Nil Band Rate?
  • Has everything above the threshold been left to a spouse or civil partner?
  • Has everything above the threshold been left to a Charitable Organisation?

Any Estate in England or Wales that is valued above the Inheritance Tax threshold can be liable to pay up to 40% Inheritance Tax.

Deadlines for paying Inheritance Tax range from 6-12 months. When the Executor or Administrator of the Will apply for a Grant of Probate, they need to submit an Inheritance Tax Return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Your loved one may have planned for Inheritance Tax when making a Will and put money aside or transferred their Nil Band Rate (NBR) to their spouse of civil partner. It’s important to check the Will for any details on Inheritance Tax planning before you pay any money that may be owed.

The Executors Year

The Executors Year is a widely accepted 12-month period where the Executor of the Will gathers in all the information, documents and checks for any debts or claims against the Estate.

A lot of Executors or Administrators can be confused and feel like they have to have assets broken up and distributed in this timeframe, but this isn’t the case. There are some important things to focus on in the months after death:

  • Check for and pay bills/debts such as phone, broadband, council tax and utility bills
  • Inheritance Tax – Speaking with a Probate specialist will help you to understand the Nil Band Rate and if the Estate owes any Inheritance Tax
  • Reading of the Will – As the Will Executor it’s your responsibility to find and let any beneficiaries know that they have been named in the Will

How Long Does Probate Take?

On average, it takes between 9-12 months to complete the Probate process. But these time scales can vary if you have a property that needs to be sold. See Selling a Probate Property.

Our Probate Solicitors can advise you on how long Probate could take in your individual situation.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

We offer free initial legal advice and guidance. Our Probate Solicitors can deal with as much or as little of the work required on your behalf. For example, we can just apply for the Grant of Probate, or we can deal with the entire process for you. See Full Probate Service.

For free legal advice call our Probate Solicitors

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