Can you track a probate application in the UK?
A probate application can take anywhere from six to twelve months to go through. In some cases, it can even take years. This leaves many people wondering whether you can track a probate application in the UK.
Don’t worry – yes, you can. But how can you track a probate application? Is it a complicated process?
Happily, no it isn’t. The UK government offers an online service through which you can check the progress of a probate application. Here is everything you need to know about how to go about it:
What Is A Probate Application?
Probate is the legal right to administer the “estate” of a person who has died. The estate is all of the deceased’s assets. This might mean the money in their bank accounts, property they own, and any stocks, shares, and investments. It might also include debts they owe or are owed.
The person responsible for administering the estate of a person who has died is called either an executor (if they were named to the role in the deceased’s will) or the administrator (if the deceased died intestate, without a will).
However, the right of probate is not an automatic right. It needs to be applied for. Before the executor can begin administering the estate, they need a legal document called a Grant of Probate (or, if there was no will, a similar document called a Grant of Letters of Administration).
Only someone named as the executor in a person’s will can usually apply for probate. The executor (or, frequently, executors) named in a will are normally trusted friends or family members or the deceased’s solicitor.
The rules for all of this are slightly different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
How Can You Track A Probate Application In The UK?
The process of tracking a probate application in much of the UK is very simple:
- For England and Wales, locate the probate records search service on the gov.uk website.
- Enter the name and date of birth of the person who has died.
- See whether the Grant of Probate has been issued and view it and the will.
If this reveals probate has not yet been granted, you can have the Probate Registry automatically send you a copy as soon as it is ready. This request is known as a standing search and lasts for six months. When that has elapsed, you need to renew your search request.
What Information Or Documents Do You Need To Track A Probate Application?
Actually, applying for probate requires several documents. You’ll need the deceased’s will (including any additional codicils), the death certificate, and completed Inheritance Tax forms (even if this tax isn’t due).
But to track a probate application, you don’t need any documents. All you need is:
- The deceased’s name
- Their date of birth
What Should You Do If You Are An Executor And An Application Has Been Started Without You?
Only the executors named in a will can apply for probate. This makes it very unlikely for a probate application to begin without the executor’s knowledge.
However, there are some limited exceptions. This is most commonly because:
- All the executors are already deceased
- All the executors are unable to act (they may have become ill or lost mental capacity)
- All the executors are unwilling to act
Here is how these circumstances can lead to an executor not being involved in the grant application process:
1) Executors Appear Unwilling To Act
It is only normally in the event of the executors being unwilling or unable to act that a beneficiary named in the will might decide to take matters into their own hands. That said, this doesn’t mean a beneficiary directly applying for probate “behind the executor’s back”, as it were.
Instead, it means a beneficiary has evidence that shows an executor is being dishonest, reckless, or mishandling the deceased’s estate either through negligence, incompetence, or as a deliberate act.
Having an executor’s position challenged or removed isn’t easily accomplished though. This means that if you are an executor and an application has been started without you, you are often in a position of power. The next step is to consult specialist legal advice.
2) Multiple Executors Acting Severally
To prevent some of the outcomes above, more than one executor is normally named in a will. Depending on how the will is set up, the multiple executors may need to act altogether (“jointly”) or individually (“severally”) when making decisions.
In the former case, all executors should – in theory – be contacted before the Grant of Probate is applied for. However, if you are an executor and could not be contacted (and the others can show they tried to reach you), it may be possible for the probate application to have started without you.
This shouldn’t affect your ability to fulfil your role as an executor. But it’s always smart to discuss what should happen, including your role and responsibilities, with a solicitor who is an expert in the field.
Talk To An Expert About Probate Applications
If you have any questions at all about tracking or applying for probate in the UK, it’s always best to speak with an expert first.
Chat with a specialist probate solicitor today. Solicitors Near Me will find you the ideal friendly approachable expert for free and without obligation.
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