Home / The Rix & Kay Blog / Probate: expected timeframes & step by step considerations
Michaela Hill

Probate Executive - East Sussex (Uckfield)

1st March 2024

Probate: expected timeframes & step by step considerations

Being the executor or administrator of an estate can be a daunting prospect. Going through probate requires all sorts of legal documents and there’s always potential tax implications to consider alongside the responsibility of distributing the estate. So what do you need to be aware of?

Is a grant of probate actually needed?

The first thing to consider is whether a grant of probate is needed. With some smaller estates, it may not be necessary to obtain a grant of probate. Each bank and institution have different rules  depending on the value  and it is worth checking what each institution requires in order to release the funds.

If probate is required

Once the assets of the estate have been identified and it has been confirmed that probate is needed you will then need to collate the date of death values for these assets but don’t forget that you will also need to identify the liabilities of the estate at the date of death. This can be a very time-consuming process,  especially if there are a lot of assets in different places. Once these values have been obtained you will need to complete any inheritance tax forms needed and, if required, pay the inheritance tax due before applying for the grant of probate.

Once the Grant of Probate is received

Once the Grant of Probate is received, further forms will need to be completed in order to begin cashing in the assets. It may also be necessary to sell a property and any liabilities will need to be paid. You may also have to consider whether the estate is subject to further inheritance tax or even capital gains tax and apply for clearance from HMRC. This all needs to be done before the final distributions can be made to the beneficiaries.

Timeframes of the Probate process

It can typically take 9-12 months to finalise the administration of an estate. However, it can sometimes take longer if, for example, there is a property to sell, complex inheritance tax, income tax or capital gains tax affairs to resolve; or there are complications regarding the personal representatives or beneficiaries.

Dealing with the administration of an estate can be a lengthy process. Registering the death must be done within 5 days of the date of death and then you need to wait for the death certificates in order to obtain the date of death valuations. Identifying assets and obtaining date of death valuations can take anywhere between a few weeks and a few months depending on the complexity of the assets, number of assets and how easy it is to identify them. Completing the inheritance tax forms and the application for the grant of probate itself can take time as well. Once the application for the grant of probate  has been submitted, it can take anywhere between 16 to 20 weeks for this to be received. Finalising the administration of the estate once the grant of probate has been received can take anywhere between a number of weeks and a number of months, depending on the nature of the estate itself.

Can the application for the grant of probate be expedited?

Generally speaking the answer is ‘no’. This can be very frustrating for both the executors and the beneficiaries of the estate.

It is possible to ask the Probate Registry to deal with the application quicker if there is a situation that justifies it (such as if the deceased was in the process of selling their house prior to death and contracts had been exchanged). However, even in these cases, it is still down to the discretion of the Probate Registry and whether they deem it necessary to expedite the matter. In the vast majority of cases the Probate Registry will only deal with matters in date order without considering the position of the estate.

How a probate professional can help

Instructing a probate professional, can take some of the pressure off and they can deal with either the administration of the estate in its entirety or they can just deal with the legal documentation for you.

Probate professionals are trained to deal with third parties, HMRC and the Probate Registry. As they deal with the administration of estates on a daily basis they are fully aware of the legal documentation required for each estate and are experienced in completing and submitting the forms required.

Contact Us

Rix & Kay’s Private Client team provide expert guidance and advice on all areas of Probate and Estate Administration. For more information on what happens during the Probate Process, or any other related advice please contact Michaela Hill on e. MichaelaHill@rixandkay.co.uk or t. 01825 744416.