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How long does Probate take?

Applying for Probate

When a loved one passes away, you’d be forgiven for wanting to get the admin over as soon as possible so that you have time to grieve and reflect. Unfortunately, however, Probate takes time to complete – often up to 12 months. Here, we take a look at the timescales of each stage of the process.

Timescales for Probate

Of course, every estate is different and the more complex it is, the longer it takes to administer. Issues such as a missing Will, complicated inheritance tax situations and lengthy property sales can all impact the timeframe, but in general, executors or administrators are expected to complete Probate within a year.

The amount of work required to administer an estate means that many people choose to engage a Kent accountant for Probate services, who will oversee the process on their behalf.

Month 1-3

In the first months, you or your case manager will need to gather all the information required in order to obtain a Grant of Probate. This includes valuing assets and liabilities, completing Inheritance tax forms, and completing all necessary documents for the court application.

Months 4-6

Once all the information has been collected and submitted for the Grant of Probate application, you’re looking at a wait of around 8-12 weeks for it to be approved. Although government guidance states that you should receive approval within eight weeks, it can take longer if additional information is required.

Months 6-9

Once the Grant of Probate arrives, it can be sent to the bank along with all the necessary documents that allow the funds in any accounts to be released. This normally takes 10-15 days.

Upon receipt of the Grant of Probate, adverts are also placed in the London Gazette and local paper, giving creditors two months’ notice to claim for any debts owed by the deceased. After this period, some distribution of funds may be possible.

Months 9-12

Claims can be made against the estate for six months following the receipt of the Grant of Probate. If anyone comes forward who believes they are entitled to benefit, a resolution should be found before any funds are distributed. It’s for this reason that most Kent tax advisors and legal representatives suggest that final distributions are made after this six-month period.

If no claims are made, the final legal, tax and administration work can be completed and the estate divided between the beneficiaries as outlined in the Will, or by the rules of intestacy.

The above timeline is, of course, simply a guide. Some estates – for example, those where no inheritance tax is due or there’s no property to sell – may not take as long to administer, while others are much more complex, involving offshore assets or a business. Obtaining help from a professional will ensure that, however long the process takes, the majority of the burden is lifted from your shoulders, enabling you to deal with the emotional side of the loss.

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