A frequently asked question is whether there is a deadline for applying for probate ?
In summary the answer very much depends upon the value of the estate. If inheritance tax is payable by the estate, then the rules provide that a full inheritance tax return ( an IHT form 400 ) must be filed within 6 months of the date of death of the Deceased by the executor or administrator of an estate, together with any Inheritance tax payable. Whilst six months may seem like a long period, it is important to appreciate that the probate process can take time if there is a tax liability. Firstly, a tax reference must be obtained, secondly arrangements made regarding the payment of tax and thirdly all assets need to be valued. Very often the six month time limit goes very quickly. Penalties or fines can be issued by the HMRC for the late filing of the return.
If no tax is payable it is important to appreciate the following :-
- The executor has a duty to administer the estate according to the terms of the will, and act reasonably
- If an Executor fails to take the steps to administer the estate, a beneficiary can take action against the Executor in court to ensure the estate is administered
- Estate liabilities must be dealt with promptly. A bank with a mortgage will always want to be informed regularly as to the progress of an estate administration eg. is a property being sold?
- Any inheritance due on a property can be paid in instalments
Sometimes once probate has been issued, it is important to understand that because claims under the inheritance act have a 6 month time limit, some professional executors such as solicitors will often await the expiry of the six month period before distributing an estate, and therefore such a step whilst frustrating for a beneficiary is entirely justified.
If you need advice on a probate time limit please call us on 01482 429985 or e-mail Tim Murden at email@example.com