Legal Services

0330 606 9548

0330 606 9548

Request a callback

What is the Executor's Year in Probate?

5th December 2018

By Trainee Solicitor, Lydia Durkin

When someone dies, the person responsible for winding up their affairs is called the Executor or Administrator of their Estate (depending on whether or not there is a Will). This person is allowed to take exactly one year from the date of the death to administer the Estate, settle any outstanding debts and distribute the rest of the Estate to those entitled to inherit it. This is what's called the 'Executor's Year.'

For free initial advice and guidance call our Probate Advisors on 03306069584 or contact us online and we will help you.

How Long Does it Take to Administer an Estate?

Each Estate will take a different amount of time to administer and distribute. There will be various factors, such as the complexity of the Estate or the number of assets held by the deceased. In some instances, the Executor or Administrator (known collectively as the 'Personal Representative') may be unaware of many hidden assets held by the deceased which can cause further delays.

In any event, when dealing with the administration of an Estate, the Personal Representative has a number of duties that they must carry out. These include calculating Inheritance Tax and settling any debts which the deceased may have had. In addition, they are also under a duty to safeguard any assets which were owned by the deceased.

How the Executor's Year Works

The law states that the Personal Representative of an Estate is permitted to distribute the Estate before the expiration of one year (365 days) from the date of death. This law is set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 and the only exception to this deadline is if there is a Will which permits a longer time period.

The Estate must be administered within this timeframe as per inheritance laws and the terms of the Will (if there is one). This is commonly known as the 'Executor's Year.'

What if the Estate Administration Takes Longer than a Year?

If an Estate takes longer than one year to distribute then the Personal Representative could be held personally liable for any loss caused as a result of the delay.

However, it is not uncommon for more complex Estates to take longer than one year to distribute. For example, if there is a claim which is being investigated by the Department for Work & Pensions or if the deceased's property is proving difficult to sell, these situations can often delay the Estate administration process.

In such circumstances, so long as the Personal Representative is acting in good faith then the length of the Estate administration process will not necessarily be called into question. However, the onus will be on the Personal Representative(s) to justify the delay.

In many cases, Beneficiaries will be unaware of the obligation on the Personal Representative(s) to make a full assessment of all of the Estate's liabilities and assets before any distributions can be made. If a Personal Representative is put under pressure to distribute funds to Beneficiaries before the 12-month period is up, and a serious mistake is made, then it's the Personal Representative that will be held personally liable.

It is important to also keep in mind that where Beneficiaries do put pressure on the Personal Representative to administer the Estate quicker, and a mistake is made, they can suffer the consequences of the Estate being wrongly distributed.

Interim Payments

When an Estate is likely to take longer than a year from the date of death to complete, the Personal Representative should usually be able to provide Beneficiaries with the option of an interim payment.

In most circumstances, the Personal Representative will hold Interim Estate Accounts, which list the assets and liabilities of the Estate. If the Personal Representative is completing the Probate work themself, then they will be responsible for preparing the Estate Accounts. If they have instructed a professional to complete the Probate work, such as Co-op Legal Services, then their Probate specialist will usually prepare the Estate Accounts on their behalf.

Once the Estate Accounts have been produced, these can be used to determine whether it's possible to provide an interim payment to the Beneficiaries of up to 80% of the total funds held. In some cases it may not be possible for a distribution to be made, this is often the case where the Department for Work and Pensions are investigating the affairs of a deceased individual.

Additional Costs if the Executor's Year Expires

If the distribution of an Estate takes longer than a year, interest becomes payable on the Estate. Other costs which may be charged include:

  • Capital Gains Tax which may be payable on the Estate if the deceased's property is sold over two years after the date of death
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) which may be payable if the deceased's residence is not dealt with within one year of the date of death.

What to do if there are Unjustified Delays during Probate

If a Beneficiary feels as though there are unjustified delays to the administration of the Estate, then they do have a legal right to make a claim against the Executor or Administrator. If a Beneficiary does decide to make a claim against the Personal Representative, then this could result in them being removed from their role and a replacement appointed.

To speak with a Co-op Probate Advisor call 03306069584 or contact us online and we will call you.

Call  03306069584

We will use your information in accordance with our Privacy Policy to contact you in relation to your enquiry

I liked all the stress it saved the family. C.C., Birmingham

The service made life easier for us. You led us through the process and we understood what was going on at all times. S. W., Lincolnshire
More testimonials

I would personally like to thank you all for the support in dealing with the estate through thick and thin, making yourself available to answer any questions that I needed answering... K.W, Bristol
More Testimonials

I liked how it took a lot of the pressures and stress out of arranging several areas that I had no clue how to actually arrange... S. H., Hampshire
More testimonials

Everything was clear and professional. A. M., Hertfordshire
More testimonials

Customer Satisfaction

4.5 stars out of 5 for Customer Satisfaction Rating

4.3 stars based on 691 Independent Surveys 

Back to top