How long does probate take in England and Wales?
The probate process which is required to settle an estate after someone passes away typically takes between 9 and 12 months. Many factors can result in this process taking longer such as the pandemic, tax being due from the estate (inheritance, capital gains, or income), the property being sold, or difficulty in locating beneficiaries.
What happens if there is no Will?
In England and Wales, the probate process takes the same length of time even if there is no Will left by the deceased. It is not a grant of probate that is obtained however, it is a Letter of Administration that is obtained and different forms and oaths are submitted to the probate registry.
What are the timescales for applying for probate?
There are no time limits on when probate can be applied for. For example, if someone passed away several years ago but a new asset has been uncovered then there are no issues with applying for probate now. We however recommend starting the probate process as soon as possible as the Executor will likely be unable to gather the assets until probate has been granted.
Before probate can be applied for, date of death values have to be obtained for all assets held by the deceased (bank accounts, shares, property). This information will be requested from the asset holders and then be contained within the probate application.
The probate registry, which processes all probate applications, has been taking slightly longer to deal with probate applications during the pandemic. In our experience, the average time for a probate application to be granted is between 8 and 12 weeks.
What if there is inheritance tax to pay?
To pay inheritance tax an IHT400 and supplementary forms must be posted to HMRC. The current turnaround time for this application is around 3 months.
If the estate is over £325,000 then there will likely be inheritance tax to pay on the estate. Inheritance tax has to be paid within 6 months of the date of death. If this is not paid in time, interest or financial penalties will likely be imposed on the estate.
For more information in relation to inheritance tax, please see our guide.
What happens once the inheritance tax has been paid?
Due to the pandemic, HMRC are sending receipt of the inheritance tax payment directly to the probate registry. Once the probate registry have received this receipt, they are able to progress with the probate application as normal.
What happens once probate has been granted?
Once probate has been granted, the Executor will be able to send a copy of the grant of probate to the asset holders to release the assets. Most asset holders, such as banks, will ask for a closure form providing payment details to be signed by the Executor, accompanied by the grant of probate, to release the funds held. The Executor will also be able to finalise the sale of the property, as contracts cannot be exchanged until probate has been granted.
Once all assets have been gathered in the estate, the Executor will be able to distribute all funds held to the beneficiaries of the estate.
While this process may seem lengthy and somewhat confusing, our experienced bereavement team will be able to assist you with your probate application and guide you through the process. To find out more please call us on 0330 175 1234.
Contact Our Bereavement Team
Contact our experienced and sympathetic Bereavement team for all your Probate/Executry enquiries.