How Long Does Probate Take?
When someone close to you has died, the thought of sorting out their estate can seem like a daunting mountain of paperwork. However, with the right legal support, finalising probate can be more straightforward than you might think.
What exactly is probate?
In simple terms, probate is a document that is issued by the Probate Registry and states that a chosen Executor has permission to finalise the estate of the deceased. ‘Estate’ is a collective term meaning the house, any personal effects, or money that has been left behind by them. The Executor must go through the estate and make sure that the named beneficiaries receive what has been left to them. This is the last part of the process, and it could take 9-12 months for beneficiaries to receive their inheritance after the individual has passed away.
How long could it take?
As with any legal process, the amount of time that it could take varies based on different factors. If yours is a straightforward probate application, then it will generally take about three to five weeks for the letter of administration to be granted. The probate registry processing times can vary based on how busy they are. Urgent situations, like when the matter is going to go to court, can be under two weeks. If the estate is not taxable, then it generally takes around two to eight weeks for the application to be processed. If the estate is taxable, then it could be around 10-12 weeks because HMRC will have to review your application.
Can I speed the process up?
There are some steps in the probate process that cannot be achieved any quicker, but there are some steps that you can take to ensure that it is processed as efficiently as possible. These are:
- Applying for probate as quickly as possible
- Pay inheritance tax quickly
- Try to complete different stages of the process at the same time
- Make sure you fully understand your role as executor, so you can administer the estate in the correct way
- Use a trained solicitor to ensure that the relevant legal standards are met, and the tax requirements are understood and carried out.
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What is the oath that I have to swear?
During the process, you must swear an oath as the executor or administrator. This states that the information in the application is correct, and that you will distribute the assets according to the wishes that are laid out in the will and in UK law. You will generally be able to do the oath as your local probate registry. After you have taken the oath, it normally will take under 10 days for you to receive the grant of probate or the letters of administration.
The process of probate can seem complicated and sometimes seem to take an unnecessarily long period of time, but it is something that is worth taking the time to perfect. If it is not done correctly at the time, you could risk disputes over the estate further down the line. Using a qualified solicitor can eliminate any problems that you may run into and ensure that the probate process is carried out in accordance with UK law.
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