Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions is whether there is a time limit for applying for probate. The answer very much depends upon the nature of the estate.
When there is a time limit
If the estate is subject to inheritance tax then a tax return must be filed within 6 months of the date of death, and arrangements made regarding the payment of tax, whether in full or instalments. The current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000 with tax paid at the level of 40%, unless any reliefs can be claimed such as the spouse exemption etc. Six months seems a long time, but in our experience too many executors or administrators often leave it until the last minute to apply for probate, which can cause issues with meeting the deadline. The revenue have powers to fine or issue penalties if the return is filed late.
Estates under £325,000
Whilst there is no deadline for applying for probate for those estates under £325,000, the best advice is always to obtain probate as quickly as possible.
Firstly, there is a legal requirement to notify banks and other financial institutions if someone has died, secondly it is inevitable that probate will be required to pay liabilities while thirdly, the beneficiaries have a legal entitlement to their inheritance. If an executor is failing to administer an estate, a beneficiary can apply to the Court to have that executor removed.
Quite simply, the best advice is always to obtain straightaway – if you need help we offer a nationwide, fixed fee service. Contact us on 0845 568 4000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org