How long will probate take?

As each person’s circumstances are different, it is difficult to predict with any certainty how long it will take to firstly obtain the grant of probate and to then administer the estate. As a rough guide, it should take six to nine months for an estate that includes property.

The reason why the process is slow is that it is normally not possible to collect the assets (apart from joint accounts which automatically pass to the survivor) or indeed to pay the liabilities of the estate out of the assets until the grant has been obtained.

This is because all official bodies including banks, building societies, stockbrokers and estate agents will want to see sight of the grant before proceeding with any sales or transfers to the executors.

Very often, estates which appear on first sight to be simple prove to be complicated. Conversely, a large estate may prove to be straightforward and problem free.

Complicating factors

Typical factors which can create problems and complicate the process include:

1. The need to go through and sort out numerous old papers;

2. Searching for details of lifetime gifts which the deceased may have made;

3. Difficulty in realising assets or in settling tax or other liabilities;

4. Difficulty in tracing beneficiaries or in dealing with beneficiaries who are under age;

5. Foreign property and the need to liaise with foreign lawyers;

6. Trusts in which the deceased had an interest;

7. Agricultural or business property, especially Lloyd’s assets which can’t be wound up for at least three years; and

8. Agreeing the values of specific assets with HM Revenue & Customs.

Please note

The information which we provide through Lasting Post is in outline for information or educational purposes only. The information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a solicitor, accountant or other professional adviser. We cannot guarantee that information provided by Lasting Post will meet your individual needs, as this will very much depend on your individual circumstances. You should therefore use the information only as a starting point for your enquiries.