How Long Does Probate Take UK? After a death, an estate executor or administrator is responsible for winding up the deceased’s affairs. This often involves obtaining a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration, the document which gives legal authority to deal with the deceased’s finances. We answer the question – how long does probate take? – and look at the process involved.
Obtaining a grant can be time-consuming and there are a number of steps to go through before an application can be made to the Probate Registry.
If you need help in dealing with an estate administration, to include obtaining a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration, we can connect you with expert probate solicitors.
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How Long Does It Take To Get Probate?
The length of time it takes to obtain a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration depends on several factors, including the complexity of the estate, how much time the executor or administrator can devote to the task of winding up the estate and how quickly Inheritance Tax is paid.
Below, we set out the steps for applying for a Grant of Probate together with an estimate of the length of time this could take.
Working Out Who Will Be Dealing With The Estate
The first step in winding up an estate is to work out who will carry out the work involved. If the deceased left a Will, this will name one or more executors. If more than one executor is named, it is open to some of the executors to have power reserved if they wish. This means that they will not take any part in the winding up of the estate, but if they ever needed to step in, they could ask the Probate Registry to grant them this power.
An executor can also renounce their executorship if they do not want to deal with the administration. It is important that if they want to renounce, they take no steps at all in dealing with the estate. If they take any action in the administration, it will not then be possible to renounce the executorship.
Where the deceased did not leave a Will, someone entitled to inherit their estate under the Rules of Intestacy will usually become an administrator.
Whoever takes on the role of executor or administrator, it is open to them to instruct a probate solicitor to deal with the administration on their behalf. The legal costs will generally be payable out of the estate.
Valuing The Estate
The next step is to value the estate. This involves finding out how much all of the deceased’s assets were worth as at the date of their death, to include savings, property and valuable items such as cars, jewellery and furniture. The amount of any debts should also be calculated and deducted from the sum of the assets to give a net value for the estate.
If the deceased gave any gifts of cash or valuables during the last seven years of their life, these must also be noted.
Paying Inheritance Tax
The net value of the estate is then used to calculate whether Inheritance Tax is payable. This can be a complicated calculation as there are allowances that can be made and also transferred if a spouse’s estate did not use their allowance at the time of their death.
If the value of the net estate, including gifts made in the preceding seven years, exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold, then the executor or administrator will need to work out how much is payable. With regard to the gifts made in the preceding seven years, the tax is payable on a sliding scale depending on how long ago they were made.
Forms need to be filled out and payment made to HM Revenue & Customs, who will provide a receipt. Depending on how many different types of asset were included in the estate, several forms will need to be completed.
Applying To The Probate Registry
The estate’s executor or administrator will then need to fill in an application form for the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. This is sent to the Probate Registry together with the application fee, the original Will, if there is one and the death certificate. The Inheritance Tax receipt is provided directly to the Probate Registry by HM Revenue & Customs.
The Probate Registry will take up to ten weeks to process the application, depending on their workload.
Receiving The Grant Of Probate Or Grant Of Letters Of Administration
Once the grant has been received, the executor or administrator can start closing bank accounts, cashing in savings, selling shares and selling property. It is open to them to put a property on the market before the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration has been received, but the sale cannot be completed until the grant has been received.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Grant of Probate Or Grant Of Letters Of Administration?
Valuing an estate can take several weeks, depending on the assets held by the deceased. The executor or administrator will need to write to all of the asset holders asking for valuations as at the date of death. They may also need to obtain professional valuations of some items.
HM Revenue & Customs will also take some time to go through the forms sent to them and ascertain that the correct amount of Inheritance Tax is being paid. They aim to do this within two weeks and advise that you should wait three weeks before applying for a grant.
Adding to this the ten weeks that the Probate Registry may take to deal with the application, the process of obtaining a grant is likely to take several months. If mistakes have been made and one of the organisations has to come back to you it will slow matters down.
If you want to secure a grant without avoidable delay, for example, because you want to sell a property, you could consider asking a probate solicitor to deal with it on your behalf. They have the experience to ensure the Inheritance Tax forms and probate application are accurate, giving you the best chance of receiving the grant without avoidable delay.
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