How Long Does Probate Take?

The length of the probate process

Taking care of the affairs of person who has passed away take a long time. Probate is a complex and time-consuming process, which can involve many individuals, organizations and government departments.

Insurance companies, banks and HM Revenue and Customs are just some of those that need to be contacted. On average, probate takes between six to nine months to complete and can take up to eighty working hours. It is not an unusual occurrence for it to stretch out for as long as a year, and perhaps even longer if things are not straightforward.

The probate process goes from the very beginning to when the beneficiaries are sent their payment, not just when the completed forms are submitted to the Probate Registry to the issue of the Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration.

How long does obtaining the Grant of Probate take?

Obtaining the Grant of Probate is an essential part of the process – you may not be able to execute or administrate the estate until you have this. Ideally, this process will take 3-5 weeks. However, if there are other complications – if there is inheritance tax to pay, or you make a mistake in filling out a form, for instance – obtaining Probate could take a lot longer.

Factors that can affect the length of Probate

The Will is Contested

If an individual feels that the Will was unfair to them, or feel that it does not reflect the true wishes of the deceased, they are entitled to contest the Will. People have six months from when probate was granted to make a claim against the estate of the deceased under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Claims regarding the validity of the will itself can be brought many years after the date of death. If a claim is made, the estate should not be distributed until after the claim has been dealt with.

Visit our Contesting a Will section for more information, or if you'd like to talk to a lawyer, check out Instant Law Line, which offers 24/7 telephone legal advice and a range of payment options.

The Nature and Location of the Deceased’s Assets

It may seem obvious, but the amount of time that Probate will take will depend heavily on the size and complexity of their estate.

For instance, a executing the estate of testator who owned no properties and a single bank account is likely to be relatively simple. On the other hand, an individual who owned shares, several bank accounts, and more than one property would leave a complex collection of assets for their executor to unravel.

This will be complicated further if the testator named a number of different beneficiaries in their Will.

Whether or Not the Deceased’s Financial Affairs were in Order

If the deceased had any debts still to settle, the executor of the Will needs to settle these, using the assets of the deceased. This must be done before any money or assets have been given to any beneficiaries.

There are other financial matters that may need to be settled – inheritance tax, for example. You may also need to contact relevant organisations (such as HMRC) to ensure that any pension, benefits, or income tax matters have been resolved.

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