How Long Does Probate Take Without a Will?

22 May 2017

In England and Wales, the amount of time it takes to go through Probate is the same, irrespective of whether or not the deceased left a Will.

Our Probate Solicitors estimate that on average, it takes between nine and twelve months to get a Grant of Probate and to finalise the Estate administration process.

Probate without a Will

Probate is a legal process you must normally go through when someone dies. It gives someone the legal authority to ‘administer’ the deceased person’s Estate. The Estate includes everything he/she owned, such as property, money and personal possessions.

The administration of an Estate often involves a lot of work. There are many legal, tax and administrative jobs to carry out, such as getting a Grant from the Probate Registry, calculating the value of the Estate, paying any tax or debts that are due, and distributing the Estate to the beneficiaries.

The actual process of Probate and administering an Estate is much the same, regardless of whether or not the deceased person left a Will. This means that in terms of the time it takes, there’s no real difference if someone dies having left a Will or dies ‘intestate’ (meaning without a Will).

However, dying intestate does have some bearing on who is allowed to apply for Probate and administer the Estate. This is because when someone writes a Will they choose ‘Executors’, and these people are responsible for completing the Probate process. But if someone doesn’t leave a Will, the law decides instead.

According to the law in England and Wales, when someone dies without a Will, the Rules of Intestacy apply. They determine who should inherit the deceased person’s Estate, putting the deceased’s relatives in an order of priority. So if their husband, wife or civil partner is still alive, he/she will be the main beneficiary.

After a spouse or civil partner, the order of priority is:

  1. Children
  2. Grandchildren
  3. Great grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nieces and nephews
  7. Other close relatives

When someone dies intestate, only a beneficiary of the Estate is allowed to apply for Probate. This person will be known as an ‘Administrator’, as opposed to an Executor when there is a Will.

The Administrator must apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Again this is slightly different if there is a Will, as the Executor must apply for a Grant of Probate. But otherwise the process is the same, aside from the fact the Estate will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy and not the terms of the Will.

It’s difficult to say precisely how long it will take to get a Grant of Probate and complete the Estate administration process. Every Estate is different, and complications can arise that cause delays.

Our Probate Solicitors estimate that an average Estate that includes a property will take between nine and twelve months to finalise. However this can be longer if the Estate is complex or if issues occur – for instance, if a beneficiary cannot be found or the Will is challenged.

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