Perhaps the most commonly asked question, is how long does probate take ? there always seems a degree of frustration as to why probate should take so long.
The starting point in all cases, is to find a will Sometimes this is very straightforward, whilst in other cases, finding a will can be very difficult if it has been held by a Solicitor or by a bank. Once found the probate process can be undertaken. This involves, three main stages :-
- Assessing all the assets and liabilities.
- The application to the probate registry, and then
- The estate distribution to beneficiaries.
Dealing with each of the above points.
Whilst in many cases assessing assets and liabilities may appear straightforward, it is always important to ensure that the precise date of death figures are obtained from the asset holders and confirmation as to whether any sums fall into the estate or whether there are any nominated beneficiaries. This is particularly important with the insurance policies. If there are assets that cannot be located you can undertake an unclaimed assets register search.
The Probate Application
Once all the assets and liabilities have been gathered the application for probate can then be made to the probate registry which is the Court responsible for the issuing of a legal document called a Grant of probate. This document once issued then enables the estate to be administered. When submitting a probate application an inheritance tax return must be submitted, this will be either the short IH205 or longer IHT400 if inheritance tax is payable. The issue of the grant of probate from the probate registry varies enormously depending upon the nature of the application submitted and whether there are any unusual elements. The Government did issue a new system for probate applications that was subject to considerable delays despite this we find that on average probate applications take typically 6-8 weeks in very straighforward cases.
The estate distribution
Once the estate assets and liabilities have been paid, the estate can be distributed. Great care should always be taken with this. There are a number of important factors to consider :-
- is the will clear as to who inherits
- if the will provides for certain percentages for beneficiaries to receive full estate accounts must be signed off by all the beneficiaries
- care should be taken with regard to quantifying all the estate liabilities eg. has a section 27 been issued
- timing of estate distribution – is it best to await the expiry of 6 months after the issue of a grant of probate in case there is a claim made ?
Help With Probate ?
As we specialise in probate, we know the process well, all our systems are geared towards obtaining probate as quickly and easy for our clients, at a fair price. To give you an idea as to how long probate takes, we find in very simple estates, probate can be obtained in just 4-5 weeks, while if the estate involves inheritance tax probate can take anything between 12-14 weeks.