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Probate Process – How Long Does Probate Take?

May 29, 2024

How long probate can take all depends on the size and value of the estate, the amount of debts the deceased needs to settle, and the inheritance tax situation. In this post, we explore the probate process, how long it often takes and responsibilities of those involved.

How Long Does Probate Take?

On average, the probate process tends to take around a year – from the date the individual passes away, until the time their estate is finally distributed. Even if executors are dealing with a relatively straightforward estate, the probate process can still take up to six months.

And unfortunately, it’s possible that executors might encounter certain delays when trying to administer the estate. This means that the probate process can take even longer than a year.

What is Probate?

When a person passes away, if they left a will, the will’s executors have a responsibility to ensure that every request in the will is carried out. This means they’ll have to spend some time settling all debts and setting all affairs in order. This process is known as probate.

Probate Process: What Happens During Probate?

Here are all the things that need to happen after a person passes away:

  1. Register the death – This needs to happen within five days of the death. Once you’ve registered the death, you’ll get a death certificate, which is required to execute a will.
  2. Make some calls – You’ll need to contact any organisation the deceased worked with, including their bank, their insurers, their mortgage lenders, their utility providers, and so on. This way they can close their accounts and prevent any ongoing charges. You’ll also need to contact any beneficiaries mentioned in the will to let them know about their coming inheritance.
  3. Fill some forms – You may need to submit a grant of probate form, which is basically official permission from the court to execute the will. You can do this online, but you may need to send paper copies of some documents. It can take around eight weeks for you to receive a grant of probate, but delays are common. You may also need to submit inheritance tax forms. Learn more about the current inheritance tax thresholds, rules, and allowances.
  4. Pay the debts – If necessary, you’ll have to arrange a payment plan to settle the inheritance tax, which may require you to take out a loan. You’ll also have to settle any debts the deceased may have, including credit card or loan balances, car or furniture repayments, and their mortgage. If there is not enough money in the estate to cover all these debts, you may have to liaise with the creditors directly to make repayment arrangements.
  5. Share the assets – Whatever is remaining in the estate after all debts have been settles can then be shared among the will’s beneficiaries according to the deceased’s wishes. Some beneficiaries may inherit specific parts of the estate, such as property.

What Are an Executor’s Responsibilities During Probate?

During the probate process, the will’s executors have the following responsibilities:

  • Taking stock of every asset in the estate and determining a value.
  • Assessing any debts the individual had before passing away, and ensuring they’re settled.
  • If necessary, the executor will have to complete all relevant inheritance tax forms and devise a payment plan.
  • The will’s executor will usually manage funeral costs.
  • Administering all beneficiaries in the will and distributing the inheritance accordingly.
  • Keeping records to account for how the estate was administered.

Why Probate Delays Remain a Problem

Beneficiaries in a will cannot access anything they’ve inherited until the process is completed. And this is where delays to the probate process can cause real problems. If the estate includes any property, then that property may be unoccupied for the duration of the probate process. And while it’s unoccupied, it could be vulnerable to burglary, and to fire, flood, and other damage.

Most home insurance properties only cover “occupied” homes. What’s more, many standard home insurance policies are voided if the home’s left unoccupied for a certain period.

This is why you’ll need dedicated probate home insurance to cover any unoccupied property throughout the process.

We Can Help You Protect Your Assets Throughout the Probate Process and Beyond

Many insurers offer quick and cheap insurance quotes for probate. Unfortunately, in our experience, such off-the-shelf policies rarely provide the level of cover you need. You might find, for example, that your specialist policy will not cover you for any delays to the probate process.

So come and talk to us. We’re experienced insurance brokers, and we know how complex the probate process can get. We’ll discuss the ins and outs of your situation, and help you understand exactly what cover you need, and how long you need it for.

For more information, get in touch with us, call us on 0208 8290 9086 or you can email the team direct at personal@anthonyjones.com.



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