A straight forward Estate with no property to sell and a single bank account may take as little as 3 months. The majority of Estates in England & Wales take around 6 to 9 months for Beneficiaries to receive their inheritance.
For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.
The length of time it takes for the assets in an Estate to be distributed after the Grant of Probate has been obtained varies depending on the assets the deceased person owned. There are several factors which effect the complexity of an Estate and some of these can add a significant amount of time before the Beneficiaries can receive their inheritance.
Collecting the Assets of an Estate
Once the Court sealed document known as the Grant of Probate has been obtained from the Probate Registry, the first step is to send a copy of the Grant of Probate to all of the banks and financial institutions that have asked to see it. Banks and financial institutions will often refuse to release a deceased person's assets without having copy of the Grant of Probate document.
Generally, the administration involved in collecting all the assets will take between 3 to 6 weeks. However, this will depend on the type of asset that is being collected. Sometimes there are issues to resolve, and these can increase the amount time it takes before any inheritance is received.
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Issues that Delay the Distribution of an Estate
For example, there may be shares in the Estate to sell through a stockbroker or share registrar which can be time consuming, with forms to be completed and signed by the Executors/Administrators. Or share certificates can be lost and unless they are held electronically then a search for them will have to be made; otherwise costs to the Estate will be incurred in order to replace them.
Another common cause of delay is a potential Beneficiary being missing, where the close relatives of the deceased do not know the whereabouts of someone who has been named as a Beneficiary in the Will. In these circumstances reasonable investigations have to be carried out, usually by using a tracing agent in an attempt to find them.
If the deceased owned a property that needs to be sold, obtaining a Grant of Probate is crucial. But finding a buyer for a Probate property that needs to be sold can take much longer and can often cause delays.
Foreign assets will also add time to the process. Should there be a property abroad that needs to be sold, the acting Personal Representative have to sell that property by instructing foreign estate agents and lawyers. The Personal Representative must also comply with different requirements to issue notifications regarding the death and obtain the necessary permissions to sell the property.
Estate Administrators/Executors can place a Deceased Estate notice in The Gazette, the UK's Official Public Record*, and in local papers to make sure there are no creditors to the Estate. Again this can prolong the process, as the minimum time given for people to come forward is two months.
Another common reason for distribution to take a long time is if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) makes an investigation into any benefits the deceased may have been in receipt of. This will usually add a further 6 to 9 months before the final sum due back to them is confirmed as a liability of the Estate.
If an insurance policy forms part of the Estate, the insurer has discretion as to whom they pay out to. Often a lot of questions will be asked of potential Beneficiaries and the circumstances of the death.
Distributing an Estate to Beneficiaries
The Executors/Administrators need to have received all the available funds, and sold or transferred the assets, before the value of the Estate can be confirmed and then distributed. Often if the majority of the assets have been received an interim payment can be made to the Beneficiaries, with Administrators holding enough funds to cover any potential costs to the Estate. Once these final costs or disbursements have been paid, the remaining funds can be distributed to the Beneficiaries.
A straight forward Estate with no property to sell and a single bank account may take as little as 3 months. The majority of Estates take around 6 to 9 months however, and complex Estates with multiple properties, stocks and shares or foreign assets can take longer.
Dealing with the administration of an Estate can take up a lot of time, especially in the early stages and we understand how daunting it can seem. Our experience tells us that the more time that can be committed at the beginning of the process to gather information, the easier it will make the following stages.
For help administering an Estate call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.
* The Gazette is the UK’s official public record, and is comprised of three publications: The London Gazette, The Belfast Gazette and The Edinburgh Gazette. Notices can be submitted and published online.
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