How Long Does Probate Take?

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How Long Does Probate Take?

Handling probate after someone's death can be a challenging time. Understanding the process can often help people when their time comes and they have to deal with probate themselves.

This is why we have chosen to put this article together to help those who don’t know much about the process understand it more. So keep reading for more information about probate, what it is, how long it takes along with the process and what you can expect.


What Is Probate?

Probate refers to the legal steps of reviewing a Will and the entire process of administering a deceased person’s estate, along with determining the Will’s validity and authenticity. Probate can also be defined as the general administration of a deceased person’s estate.

Grant of Probate is the legal document that gives you the authority to share out the estate of the person who has died according to the instructions in the will. You do not always need probate to be able to deal with someone's estate, for example, if there is no Will.


How Long Does Probate Take After Death?

The Grant of Probate will be received by the probate registry in 3–4 weeks and then after that, on average, the process usually takes up to 6 months to complete but can easily take longer, up to around a year.

The average time for probate to be completed is around 6 to 9 months. The time can vary depending on several factors, for example, depending on the size of the estate and whether or not the estate is complicated or becomes complicated along the way.

If there is a Will in place and the estate is straightforward, it will probably take six months. If you are the Will executor, then you should pay the inheritance tax promptly to make sure the process takes as little time as possible.

Revenue and customs can take up to five months to process inheritance tax and capital gains.


The Probate Process

The probate process can be long and stressful. When someone dies in the UK, the first thing that has to be done is to register the death. This has to be done within five days, and you will need to establish whether the deceased left any instructions; for example, they may have specified burial, cremation or organ donation requests, which is also important when making funeral arrangements.

If the deceased person has left a Will, it will name someone that they’ve chosen to administer their estate. This person is named the Will executor and it is the executor of the Will who will have to apply for probate.

Once probate has been granted, the executor is involved in organising the deceased’s money, assets and possessions and distributing them as inheritance once all taxes and any debts have been paid.


Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is paid if applicable; the threshold stands at £325.00 and involves the whole of the estate. The estate refers to everything owned by the person who has died.

This includes money - both cash and money in a bank or building society, money paid out in a life insurance policy, pensions, stocks and shares, property and all of their personal belongings.

If you do not pay inheritance tax, it will be necessary to complete an IHT205 form. This IHT205 form is used as part of the probate process; if the deceased's estate is an ‘excepted estate’ it means the estate does not pay inheritance tax.


Reasons Why An Estate Would Not Have To Pay Inheritance Tax

Some of the reasons that an estate may be exempt from inheritance tax include some of the following:

  • Inheritance Tax is only due if the total value of the estate is over the Inheritance Tax threshold, which is currently £325,000. This is sometimes referred to as the ‘excepted estate limit’. This threshold may be higher in cases where the deceased was married and their spouse happened to die before them and leave everything to them. This is because married couples can combine their tax-free thresholds.
  • An estate can be exempt from inheritance tax if the deceased leaves everything to a serving spouse or a charity if the estate is worth less than £1 million. In this instance, this is called an exempt estate.
  • Another reason for the deceased’s estate to be exempt from inheritance tax is if they were living abroad. In this case, the inheritance tax might not be due in England and Wales if he or she were living abroad permanently and therefore died abroad; this is known as ‘foreign domiciliary’.

Do remember that even if you believe an estate to be exempt from inheritance tax, you still need to complete Inheritance tax forms when applying for probate. If you do not, then HMRC may hold you personally accountable for the mistake.


Who Is Allowed to Apply for Probate?

The testator usually appoints a person who should serve as the executor in cases where there is no Will or if the Will does not nominate such a person.

One of the beneficiaries is allowed to apply for legal documents allowing them to act as an administrator.


Is There A Time Limit On Applying For Probate?

No, in England and Wales, there are no time limits for the probate application process for the Grant of Probate. There are, however, other aspects of the probate process and administering the estate, such as settling inheritance tax issues, which must be dealt with 6 months after the date of death.

Before applying for probate, you must have the Grant of Probate, which legally allows you to deal with the estate.


The Probate Process Cost

The cost of probate can vary but it is split into two parts. There is a fixed fee that you pay to the government and there is a fee you pay to your solicitor to deal with all matters.

These fees can change from year to year, depending on how long the whole probate process takes so feel free to get in touch with our probate solicitors and give us a call to discuss your situation in more detail. You can find all of our contact details available on our website.

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