We’ve helped local people in Flintshire shoulder the burden of the probate process for over a hundred years. The most common question we get asked is this – how long does probate take?
We make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. But even with our LEXCEL-accredited specialists on the case, it’s not uncommon for probate to take as long as a year to be granted.
“I am very grateful for you and your staff for carrying out this transaction for me and my co-executor. It’s another job very well done”
What Is Probate?
Probate is – roughly speaking – the legal permission to administer someone’s estate after they have passed away. Probate is awarded in the shape of a legal document called a Grant of Probate.
The only person who can apply for probate is usually the person or people who are named as the executor of the estate in the will.
As an executor, you are charged to follow the wishes laid out in the will. You can only normally distribute the person’s assets (their money, home, jewellery and other possessions) to the named beneficiaries.
If there is no will or no named executor, there is a small list of people who can apply for what are called “Letters of Administration” instead. This gives legal permission similar to probate.
How Long Does Probate Take?
It’s not uncommon for it to take one year after a person has passed away for probate to be granted.
This is an average though. Some estates end up taking much longer than this. Then again, everything could be wrapped up within six months (though this is usually a minimum).
There are a small number of factors that determine how long probate takes:
- Whether there is a will – writing a will is very important. If the person who has died does not have a will, it will complicate the probate process.
- Whether the will is valid or contested – it is also vital to get the will drawn up professionally. Any challenge or question of validity will slow you down in getting probate.
- How large and complex the estate is – if the estate is complex or difficult to value in some way, probate is likely to take longer.
Why Do You Have To Wait 6 Months After Probate?
Technically speaking, as soon as the executor has received a Grant of Probate, they can proceed with administering the estate in line with the will.
However, there are certain reasons why the executor may not immediately distribute the estate to the beneficiaries.
Firstly, there is a law called the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. This gives certain parties six months to challenge the will if they feel it has left them without “reasonable financial provision”.
There are also two other reasons why beneficiaries may not immediately receive what a will seems to entitle them to:
- Debts and bills have to be paid – any outstanding debts the deceased owes need to be paid from the estate. Creditors must legally be given time to claim.
- Beneficiaries need to be located – if the named beneficiaries have lost touch with the deceased, they may be difficult to locate.
Can A House Be Sold Before Probate?
No. The executor of a will does not have legal permission to touch the deceased’s estate before they have been granted probate.
There may be some small exceptions to this – to pay small bills or funeral costs, for example. Executors will also usually be able to use the estate’s money to pay the required Inheritance Tax.
But, while it is possible to put a house on the market before probate is granted, you cannot sell it until you (as the executor) have received legal permission to do so.
What Can Slow Down Probate?
Many factors can slow down the probate process. Many of these relate to the will. If it cannot be found, is invalid, doesn’t name an executor, or you don’t have the original, for instance.
The processing of Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax also takes time – HMRC can take five months or more to complete this part of the process.
Can A Solicitor Speed Up Probate?
Yes. A probate solicitor like one of our experts knows how to ensure there are no issues that can slow down probate and that the entire process goes ahead as speedily as possible.
Why use EA Harris?
- Start with FREE initial advice on probate
- Rely on LEXCEL-accredited professionals
- Chat with a friendly and approachable team