By Trainee Solicitor, Lydia Durkin
After swearing an oath, the Grant of Probate will usually be received within 3 - 4 weeks. The rest of the Probate process will usually take several months to complete from then. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) can sometimes take 6 months or longer to complete their work on the Inheritance Tax matters. In practical terms, many Probate cases are completed in 9 - 12 months, but more complicated Estates can take years.
It's wise to wait at least 6 months after receiving the Grant to distribute any money to Beneficiaries, as this is how long people have to make a claim against the Estate.
How to Swear an Oath
When administering the Estate of someone who died, you might need to get a Grant of Representation and swear an oath as part of the process. An Oath can be sworn by a Personal Representative in one of two ways:
- Power of Attorney application – this lets the Personal Representative grant someone else the legal authority to apply for the Grant of Representation and swear the Oath on their behalf. This could be a relative, a friend or a Probate Solicitor who is acting on their behalf.
- Personal Application – if you are doing all of the Probate work yourself and not instructing a Probate specialist to help you, then you would need to make a personal application to get the Grant of Representation and swear the Oath.
There are two types of Grant of Representation – Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration. If you’re not sure which one you need, see Which Grant of Representation Do I Need for Probate?
At Co-op Legal Services, our Probate specialists can advise on both ways in which the Grant can be sworn so that an informed decision can be made by the Personal Representative. With our Probate Complete Service we also take full responsibility for swearing the Oath, obtaining the Grant of Representation, and dealing with HMRC on your behalf.
Options for Applying for the Grant
Generally with a Power of Attorney application, a Probate Solicitor acting on behalf of the Personal Representative will be appointed as the attorney and given legal permission to apply for the Grant of Representation. If Co-op Legal Services is carrying out this work and is named on the Grant of Representation, the swearing of the Oath can be done by our one of our nominated Solicitors within a day or two of the Grant application being drafted.
If submitting a Personal Application then the Personal Representative/s must visit a local Solicitor, with the Grant application, in order to have the Oath sworn by the Solicitor.
After the Grant has Been Submitted
Once the Grant application has been sent to the Probate Registry (Court), we always advise Personal Representative/s that we expect to receive the sealed Grant of Probate within 3 - 4 weeks. However, this does depend on the time of year that the Grant is applied for as some months are likely to be busier than others.
For fairly simple Estates, when the Grant of Probate has been received, this can be used to deal with the assets in the Estate and any outstanding liabilities (debts) can also be settled at this stage.
Individuals have six months from the date when the Grant was issued to make any claims against the Estate, so it’s not a good idea to distribute anything to the Beneficiaries until this period has passed, just in case someone does make a claim. After 6 months have passed, everything that’s left in the Estate can be distributed to the Beneficiaries in line with inheritance laws and the terms of the Will (if there is one).
For more complex Estates there are various factors which can delay the completion of the Probate process and distribution of the Estate. Some of these factors include:
- How big or complex the Estate is
- Missing or unknown Beneficiaries
- Whether any Inheritance Tax is due to be paid to HM Revenue & Customs
- Whether any debts need to be repaid to the Department for Work & Pensions etc.
With our Probate Complete Service, we always provide an estimated time frame right at the start outlining how long we expect the Probate process to take. This means that the Personal Representative is fully aware of what to expect from the outset.
For any Estate, whether it’s fairly simple or more complex, we can deal with the whole Probate process, including ensuring that the correct paperwork is completed, completing all the Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax work and locating and contacting all the Beneficiaries. This often helps to relieve stress and alleviate an unnecessary burden at a time of grief.
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.
For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.
*We can also pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral, providing the Estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs.