How Long Does Probate Take Once Submitted?

22 September 2017

Once the probate application has been submitted, how long it will take to receive the grant of probate or grant of letters of administration will depend on:

  • Whether any tax is payable
  • Whether any mistakes have been made
  • How busy the Probate Registry office is

Taxable Estates

When you apply to the Probate Registry for probate, one of the things you will need to do is work out whether or not inheritance tax (IHT) is due. If it is, it will prolong the probate application process. This is because information will need to be provided to HM Revenue & Customs (HRMC) to review.

The personal representative must advise HMRC that tax is due, and liaise with them over payment. HMRC will review the information, which can take time depending on whether they dispute any of the valuations that have been provided. Any inheritance tax that is due should be paid at the end of the sixth month after the death, after this date, interest starts to accrue. When the tax has been paid, HMRC will issue a receipt which needs to be sent to the Probate Registry. Only then will the Probate Registry issue a grant of probate.

Therefore it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation, as the inheritance tax must be paid before a grant of probate will be issued – meaning you don’t have easy access to funds in the estate. If there is available cash held in bank accounts, banks may release funds to settle any inheritance tax due. If not, the executors or administrators will need to work out another way to pay the IHT, perhaps by paying out of their own pocket, getting an executor's loan or setting up a payment scheme.

It can take some time to organise all this, and all the correspondence needed with HMRC can slow things down if you are not familiar with their processes.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting grant of probate and dealing with the lLegal, tax (excl VAT), property and estate administration affairs*.

Making Mistakes on the Probate Application

When you send your application to the Probate Registry, they will review all the paperwork that has been sent. If anything is missing, or mistakes have been made, the Probate Registry will not be able to issue a grant of probate. Instead they’ll advise you of the problem, which you’ll need to rectify. Your application will then be reviewed again.

This can, inevitably, delay the probate process.

Probate Registry Offices

All Probate Registry offices are subject to busy periods. This has been particularly true recently as some Probate Registries have closed down, meaning those remaining have shouldered extra work. This can be a major factor in the time it takes, as your local Probate Registry may be working through a backlog.

How Long Can Probate Take?

As you can see, there are a lot of variables at play in the probate process. To give you a better idea of how long probate could take to be granted, we will share our own experiences with you.

We’ve had grants issued within one week of sending the application off, but this is exceptionally fast. Generally for a simple estate, three weeks would be considered reasonable. It will take longer if Inheritance Tax is payable on the estate or the estate is complex requiring a more detailed inheritance tax account.

A way of minimising delays during probate is to ask a probate solicitor to make the application on your behalf. This will help to ensure that the probate application is correctly completed, the Inheritance Tax payment is organised, and the necessary supporting paperwork is prepared.

* 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.

Co-op Legal Services has been named Probate Provider of the Year 2018, is the largest provider of Probate and Estate administration services in England and Wales and is trusted to deal with over £1.3 billion in Estates annually.

If you need help with probate, contact us:

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