How long after probate can funds be distributed?

12 February 2021

After the Grant of Probate has been issued, our Probate Solicitors estimate that for a straightforward estate, it will take another 3 to 6 months before the funds can be distributed to the beneficiaries. This will be longer for more complex estates.

The probate process

There are two main steps to the Probate process in England and Wales:

  1. Obtaining a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
  2. Administering the estate (this involves a lot of legal, tax and administrative work)

Only once both of these things have been done can the executors or administrators distribute the deceased person’s Estate to their beneficiaries.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax (excl VAT), Property and Estate Administration affairs.

Getting the Grant of Probate

Generally, obtaining a Grant of Probate will take around 3 months. It involves submitting an application to the Probate Registry. This application must include:

  • A PA1 form
  • The Will and three copies (if applicable)
  • An Inheritance Tax form
  • An official copy of the death certificate
  • The Probate Registry fee.

If you’re applying for probate yourself, you’ll also need to go to a Probate Registry office to swear an oath. When you use our Probate Complete Service you won’t need to visit a Probate office.

If the Probate Registry is satisfied that everything has been completed properly, it will issue a Grant of Probate, or a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is no Will.

Once this has been issued, the executor or administrator can move on to the next step of the process: administering the estate.

Administering the estate

The ‘estate’ is the collective term for everything the deceased person owned, such as property, money in the bank, personal possessions, vehicles and investments. All of these things will need to be officially administered according to the law in England & Wales. This will involve:

  • Advertising for creditors (not mandatory)
  • Gathering in the assets (such as closing bank accounts)
  • Transferring assets, such as share holdings
  • Selling or transferring property
  • Preparing estate accounts

It’s difficult to say exactly how long all of this will take, as it will depend entirely on what type of assets the deceased person owned.

For example, if the deceased person owned a property in their sole name, it will either need to be sold or transferred into the name of someone else. It’s impossible to know how quickly this will happen, especially if the property needs to be sold.

Our Probate Solicitors suggest that for a straightforward estate where there’s no property to sell, it can take 3 months to get the Grant of Probate, and a further 3 to 6 months to administer the estate. This means that in total, it can be 6 to 9 months before the beneficiaries can receive their inheritance.

But for more complex estates, it may be a year or more before the funds are distributed. Issues that can delay payments to beneficiaries include:

  • Foreign assets
  • Missing beneficiaries
  • Lost share certificates or property deeds
  • Investigations by the Department of Work & Pensions
  • The Will being challenged.

Co-op Legal Services is the largest provider of Probate and Estate Administration services in England and Wales, trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.

If someone has died and you need help with probate, contact us:

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