How Long Does a Personal Representative Have to Settle an Estate?

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How Long Does a Personal Representative Have to Settle an Estate?

Dealing with the financial affairs of someone who has died can be a daunting and overwhelming task. The process can be long-winded, with lots of legal processes and rules along the way, especially if the estate is complicated.

Administering a person's estate can be a time-consuming process, which is why we are here to explain to you the job of the personal representative of an estate, along with exactly how long they have to settle an estate, so keep reading for more information.


What Is A Personal Representative?

A personal representative is a general term for the person who is responsible for dealing with the estate of a person who has died. When there is a Will, this person is also called the executor and when there is no Will, this person is called the administrator.

When there is no Will, the personal representative may have to apply for legal authority before they can deal with the person's estate; this is called probate.


What Is the Personal Representative Responsible For?

The personal representative is responsible for dealing with the estate; this involves:

  • Sending a copy of the death certificate to the organisations that hold the deceased money
  • Asking for the amount of money held to be confirmed
  • Ensuring bank accounts are frozen. This way, no one can withdraw money without authority
  • Finding any financial documents
  • Find out what is owed to the deceased estate
  • Finding out any details of any money the deceased may have owed, e.g., unpaid mortgages, loans, etc.
  • Getting any inheritance tax due and arranging to pay it, preparing and sending off the documents required by the probate
  • Preparing a list of assets, including property, money and possessions
  • Paying debts and expenses off, e.g., solicitors or probate fees
  • Working the amount of inheritance tax out and making sure it is paid off
  • Preparing to send off documents required by the probate registry and the HM Revenue and Customs
  • When probate is granted, collecting money belonging to any bank accounts, insurance, pension fund building societies of the estate, etc.
  • Finally sharing out what remains of the estate. Based on what is stated in the Will or according to the rules of intestacy when there is no Will.


What Does a Personal Representative Need to Do to Settle an Estate?

The personal representative must complete the estate administration process in the right order as well as follow the law.

If there are not enough assets involved in the estate to cover outstanding tax expenses, bills and other liabilities, this is called an insolvent estate, and you should seek the advice of a solicitor as things can get complicated.


How Long Does a Personal Representative Have to Settle an Estate?

Setting up an estate largely depends on the size and simplicity of the estate and the Will, along with how efficient the named administrator is. The process from start to finish can take between 9 and 12 months, although if there are complications and complexities involved in the Will or if there is no Will, the process can take longer.

There is no set time for the personal representative to complete the administration process. However, this is not the same case with inheritance tax, as there is a deadline when it comes to inheritance tax and an order that must be followed when settling an estate.


How Long Is The Inheritance Tax Deadline?

Once the final estate has been calculated, the personal representative must conclude if the estate is liable for inheritance tax or not. Completing the correct form is essential and it must be sent to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The calculation and payment for inheritance tax must be made within 6 months of the deceased’s date of death, if owed, of course. The threshold for inheritance tax stands at £325,000; it involves the whole of the estate. The estate refers to everything owned by the person who has died.

HM Revenue and Customs can then take up to five months to process the inheritance tax calculation.


Apply for a Grant of Probate

Once any inheritance tax is paid, the personal representative will need to apply for a Grant of Probate.

The Grant of Probate document gives the administrator of the will the legal power to deal with the estate.

There is no deadline for applying for the Grant of Probate in England and Wales. Although this should be done within a ‘reasonable timescale'.


How a Wills and Probate Solicitor Can Help You?

A specialist Wills and Probate solicitor can help you with all the legal aspects of estate administration. Including the tax and administrative work involved in the distribution of an estate, while providing legal assistance throughout.

When you are called on to administer the estate of a loved one, let us help you at Bell Lamb & Joynson. We are expert Wills and Probate solicitors and have been helping clients across the Northwest for over 200 years.

Whether you need help creating a Will of your own or handling probate after a loved one's death, we can be there for you and support you every step of the way. We always aim to make the process a much simpler and hassle-free one. At Bell Lamb & Joynson, we are always upfront about our costs so you can stay in control of your legal spending at all times.

To speak with a professional solicitor who can help you with the duties of administering someone’s estate, then contact us today. All our contact details can be found on our website.

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