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How long does it take to wind up an estate?

October 7, 2018 Wills, Executry & Probate

Wills, Executry & Probate

Death of a loved one is a deeply emotional and painful time. Having to deal with various paperwork as well as legal formalities can become too overwhelming for most people. It is therefore very common to instruct a solicitor to deal with the process of winding up an estate. With roles and responsibilities, timescales, communication as well as costs to consider, it is necessary to choose the right firm of solicitors who will ensure that the time involved in is not too excessive.

How long does it take to finalise an estate after death?

Beneficiaries typically receive inheritance within six to twelve months, varying based on complexity and potential Probate Registry delays. Each estate is unique, with timelines influenced by size and complexity. Your solicitor, after reviewing relevant paperwork, can provide an estimated timeframe.

There are many factors such as unpaid debts which can extend the process beyond six months, as all outstanding debts must be settled before estate distribution.

The job of winding-up an estate The executor’s (or administrator’s) job can be lengthy and complex, particularly in the case of a larger estate. They are responsible for collecting in the deceased’s assets and valuing them, then accounting to HM Revenue & Customs for any Inheritance Tax which is due.

Selling properties owned by the deceased

When selling property owned by the deceased, conveyancing can prolong settlement by several weeks due to various factors.

Your solicitor will update you on the sale progress and associated conveyancing costs. Legal rights safeguard family members from being disinherited in both testate and intestate estates.

Surviving spouses and children can claim a share of the estate; surviving children are entitled to a third, and the surviving spouse to half of the movable estate if no spouse survives.

Excluded family members can claim legal rights. Calculating rights can be time-consuming, extending the estate winding-up process. If the deceased died intestate, a court-appointed executor is necessary before contacting asset holders, involving an application fee and obtaining a bond of caution, with your solicitor guiding you through the process and providing updates.

Calculating Inheritance tax

As an executor, it’s crucial to locate all beneficiaries listed in the Will or estate. Common steps include making inquiries with families and placing advertisements in newspapers.

This ensures compliance with the Will and the law. HMRC assesses the estate for inheritance tax, with your solicitor assisting in valuations to expedite the process.

Executors may receive a letter from the DWP to request details of the deceased’s assets and liabilities before distributing the estate, ensuring proper inquiries are made.

Enquiries are made if the deceased has received any means of benefits. The DWP will need to assess all the details and whether the deceased was entitled to receive the benefits and if they were they will do an extensive and thorough search to check whether they have been receiving the correct payments.

It is worth noting calculating Inheritance Tax is not always straightforward, as any cash gifts that the deceased made within the seven years preceding their death must be notified to HM Revenue & Customs and tax on them calculated and paid on a sliding scale. Establishing how much was gifted and when can be tricky and may involve going through the deceased’s financial records and bank accounts which can often be time consuming.

It is very difficult to determine how long the process will take and there is no simple answer. Your solicitor will make enquires and provide you with a rough estimate of the timings involved.

What is confirmation?

Confirmation is a legal document from the local sheriff court, which allows Executors to acquire the assets and property of the deceased estate and carry out the division of the estate.

The length of time it will take for a confirmation to be granted can vary and therefore it is difficult to determine how long it will take.

Your solicitor will most likely specify that it be best to allow between 3 to 6 weeks to obtain confirmation.

A confirmation will contain an inventory of an estate. An inventory lists all items included in the estate and specifies their respective values.

This is done so that it can be clear whether there is any inheritance tax due to be paid from the estate.

The sheriff court charges a fee for granting a confirmation and this depends on what the total value for confirmation of the estate is. In addition to this a fee for each certificate of confirmation will also need to be paid.

Gathering and distributing assets

The executor will need to gather and transfer assets as required under the Will or the rules of intestacy for any person who died without a Will. If there were dead people who had homes that had already been sold, it could take time. A third party may be notified of a beneficiary named in a Will by contacting the executor. Failure to leave a Will also risks disagreement between family members, which could hinder the estate distribution. If an executor doesn’t locate any beneficiaries, the transfer of estates could be delayed.

Experienced Executry Solicitors based in Glasgow

If your family needs support to settle your estate in Scottish law, then our executor’s lawyers offer an excellent service. We can provide you legal advice and guidance during this difficult and costly legal process.


Is there a time limit on winding up an estate?

Estate administration typically takes around nine -12 weeks, though it sometimes takes longer. Executors are free from any obligation to distribute money between beneficiaries.

They are also liable for any interest paid on the remaining cash.

How long does it take to release money from the estate?

There are numerous potential causes of delay in respect of an estate administration. You can expect the process to take at least six months. A simple estate can be settled in six months. Complex estates can take years for settlement. When estate tax returns need to be submitted, the estate may not close unless it is approved by the IRS. The estate tax returns are.

Contact us

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Wills and probate lawyers about assistance with a probate and on how to begin the process of winding up of an estate, our Experienced Executry Lawyers will provide you with clear and concise advice and guide you through the process in a professional and timely manner.

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