How Long Does Probate Take in the England and Wales? 2021 Guide

When someone has passed away leaving a will, a grant of Probate is often required to deal with the deceased’s assets. If the deceased person had no will, the Probate Registry issues a Letter of Administration for the next of kin (as defined by the rules of intestacy).

How long does Probate take in the UK ? It depends on the circumstance of each individual. On average, it takes around 6 to 12 months to obtain a Grant of Probate or a Letter of Administration and to complete the Estate Administration Process.

How long does Probate take after a death?

Usually, Probate and Estate administration takes around 6 to 12 months to complete the process. The average time for the process is nine months. The Probate time limit depends on the complexity and size of the estate.

When the estate is straightforward, the process can take around six months. But when there is no Will, or valuation or identification of the estate is not easy, it will likely take more than 12 months.

How long does a Grant of Probate takes?

A Grant of Probate is issued when the deceased had a Will. Although you have a will, the process may take a long time because of several factors including:

  • Not being able to find a Will. When the deceased hasn’t shared any information about their Will with anyone, it may be challenging to find the missing will. Because of this, it can take more time to apply for Probate.
  • When the deceased did not make  records of all their assets, it won’t be easy to find out what comes within the estate and searches may be required
  • A poorly drafted Will, typically homemade or from a DIY kit.
  • If the Will is invalid, it is either ineffective or will need to be ‘proved’ by the use of affidavits and these can be questioned by the Probate Court.
  • If the estate is qualified to pay Inheritance tax, you will have to declare the estate to HMRC.
  • If the specifics of the Estate triggers a more complex application form called an IHT400, the process of going through HMRC and the Probate Court takes longer.

If you have any of these challenges, the Grant of Probate may take up to 6 months. Without such difficulties the Grant process will typically take between 4-12 weeks depending on the application type.

How Long Does a Letter of Administration take?

You have to apply for a Letter of Administration when the deceased has no Will. You will receive the documents within 4-12 weeks after the Letter of Administration’s initial application (depending on the application type). Then the process of administering the deceased’s estates starts, which can be complicated when:

  • the estate has inheritance tax payable
  • the deceased was living abroad at the time of death
  • the deceased held shares in a variety of different companies
  • their assets are difficult to track down

The whole process can take around 6 to 12 months, and if the administration of assets become complicated, it will take years to complete the Letter of Administration process.

How long do banks take to release money after Probate?

Once you have obtained the Grant of Representation, you have to send a Court sealed copy of the Grant of Probate, the completed closure form and the death certificate (Original or certified copy) to the financial institution to receive the deceased’s money. The bank may also ask for an additional ID such as a utility bill or a copy of your bank statement.

Once they receive these documents, they will release the funds within 2 to 15 days.

How long after Probate is granted does it take to receive an inheritance?

It will typically take anywhere between 1 to 6 months to receive the inheritance after Probate is granted. When you are the executor or administrator of the estate and the sole beneficiary, you can start receiving the inheritance right away, closing the deceased’s accounts and gathering funds together.

If there is more than one beneficiary stated in the Will, you’ll have to pool everything together in one place to distribute the funds, usually an Executor’s bank account. In this case, beneficiaries will need to wait longer until the administrator collects the funds, settles liabilities and then distributes the balance among the beneficiaries.

Is there a probate time limit?

There is no strict time limit set for the whole probate process. However, there are time limits for specific steps:

  1. Inheritance tax: You must pay the inheritance tax within six months after the person died. If you take longer than that, you may receive financial penalties. You can’t apply for Probate till you pay the Inheritance Tax (or an initial payment agreed with HMRC).
  2. Transferable nil rate band: to claim additional tax relief in respect of the pre-deceased spouse, this must be claimed within 2 years of the second death.
  3. It is expected that an Executor will commence their duties within a 12 month period from date of death. If this does not happen the beneficiaries can take legal action to have the executor replaced

2 thoughts on “How Long Does Probate Take in the England and Wales? 2021 Guide”

  1. Find that as the amount of monies collected by hrmc /probate the length of time should be much faster. Yes complicated cases may take longer, but in the digital age, the process needed in modern times..Is way overdue of overalling or scrapping.

    1. Completely agree, especially given if you go back about five years it took about two weeks for probate to be granted in most cases. Now in a time where technology is more advanced, and processes should have improved, it makes little sense as to why the time taken to grant probate takes so long, other than if there are less staff. But that then that begs the question as to why HMCTS increased the Court fee by so much a couple of years ago…

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