What if the Executor doesn't Distribute the Estate after Probate?
An Executor is someone named in a person’s Will who has the responsibility of administering their Estate after they die, and distributing assets to any Beneficiaries named in the Will. They’re legally bound to follow the wishes in the Will and administer the Estate in a lawful way.
If they fail to do so without a valid reason, Beneficiaries can ask the Court to remove them as an Executor.
Being an Executor is an important responsibility and it can be time consuming, especially if you’re dealing with a complex Estate. This is why many people choose to appoint an expert Probate Solicitor to take on the role and handle the complex paperwork.
How soon can you distribute an Estate?
Every Estate will vary, but usually Executors will wait at least 6-10 months from getting the Grant of Probate before distributing the Estate to Beneficiaries. This is because there’s a strict time limit of 6 months to make an Inheritance Act Claim, so distributing assets too soon can complicate things if someone then decides to bring a claim against the Estate.
The Estate assets also can’t be distributed until the Estate administration is complete – this includes valuing all the assets and paying any debts or liabilities owed. Generally, it’ll take between 9 and 12 months to administer an Estate in England and Wales, but it’ll depend on the size of the Estate and other factors such as selling a property and how easy it is to track down Beneficiaries.
If you’re dealing with a small Estate with no property, it can take as little as 3 months to complete Probate and distribute the Estate.
Process of Administering an Estate
The Estate administration will either be handled by an Executor (if a valid Will was left behind) or an Administrator (if no Will was left behind). They’ll first need to apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (known collectively as a Grant of Representation). This gives them the legal right to administer the Estate.
Once they’ve got a Grant of Representation, they will have the responsibility of:
- Collecting the Estate assets, including property, savings and belongings
- Paying any debts owed
- Looking after Estate and distribution accounts
- Arranging the sale of a property
- Completing tax forms
- Paying legacies
- Distributing the Estate to Beneficiaries
If you'd like help with the above, get in touch with our Probate Solicitors or find out more about our Full Probate Service.
What can delay the distribution of an Estate?
There are a few different factors that can cause delays in the Probate process:
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate – Due to Coronavirus and many people still working from home, it can take 8-12 weeks to receive the Grant of Probate after making the application
- Selling a property – If it’s taking time to find a buyer or there are delays with Conveyancers, this can delay the distribution of an Estate
- Dealing with foreign assets – If the Estate you’re dealing with has assets abroad (known as a cross-border Estate), this can cause delays if you’re having to send paperwork overseas or deal with foreign estate agents and lawyers
- Missing Beneficiaries – It can sometimes take time to find Beneficiaries, especially if they live abroad or are estranged from their family
- Selling shares – Selling shares can involve a lot of paperwork and they often need to be sold through a stockbroker, which can make them take longer to sell than other Estate assets
- Paying debts – If there are outstanding debts to be repaid after someone dies, an advert needs to be placed in the Gazette to notify creditors. Creditors have around 2 months to claim any debts, which can delay the process
If you’re a Beneficiary, it’s important to remember that there can be an innocent explanation for an Executor delaying the distribution of an Estate, so you should talk to the Executor first to raise any concerns you have, and you might find that the issues are resolved straight away.
Whether you’re a Beneficiary dealing with a challenging Executor, or you’d like any help with administering an Estate, get in touch with our Probate Solicitors to see how we can support you.
We offer a range of Probate services, tailored to your needs, including a Full Probate Service and a Grant of Probate Application Service.
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