How Soon Do I Have to Apply for Probate?

04 July 2017

In England & Wales there are no time limits when applying for Probate, although it’s possible that you won’t be able to deal with your loved one’s affairs until you’ve got a Grant of Probate, so you might not want to delay for too long.

There are also time limits with regards to submitting an Inheritance Tax return which you need to be aware of.

Time Limit for Probate

After a loved one dies, going through the legal process of Probate is likely to be the last thing you want to do. Understandably you need the time to grieve, and to make practical arrangements – like organising the funeral and securing their empty property.

However, at some point you’ll need to find out whether or not Probate is needed. Probate is the process you have to go through in order to get the legal authority to deal with a deceased person’s affairs.

If your loved one has passed away, our Probate Advisors can tell you if Probate is needed.

If Probate is required, you won’t be able to deal with any of your loved one’s assets until you’ve got a Grant of Probate from the Probate Registry. For example, you won’t be able to sell their property or withdraw funds from their bank accounts. Also you won’t be able to distribute assets to the beneficiaries.

This means that although there aren’t any time limits, you might not want to wait too long before starting the Probate process. You won’t be penalised for delaying, it’s just that all these assets will effectively be ‘in limbo’, as no one will have the legal authority to manage them.

Additionally the beneficiaries may become impatient and ask that you step down from your role as Executor or Administrator.

Time Limit for Inheritance Tax

There is one time limit that you need to bear in mind, and that relates to Inheritance Tax and filing of the Inheritance Tax returns.

If the short Inheritance Tax Return Form IHT205 is used, there is no deadline to submit the form. However, if the long Inheritance return Form IHT400 is used then it must be submitted within a year of the death of your loved one.

__If Inheritance Tax is payable, it must be paid within six months of the death. __If you fail to meet this six month deadline, you could incur additional interest or financial penalties.

Again, if you are the Executor or Administrator of the Estate, failing to submit an Inheritance Tax return in time could prompt the beneficiaries to complain. Beneficiaries can even ask a Court to remove an Executor.

Free Probate Advice

If you want to know whether or not you need to apply for Probate, our Probate Advisors can help you. Or if you don’t feel confident in handling the Probate process yourself, our Probate Specialists can carry it out on your behalf.

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

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