Grant of Probate: What is it, when do I need one and how long does it take?

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A grant of probate is a court sealed document that gives the necessary authority to executors to administer a deceased person’s estate.

Carole Haestier, Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitor at WSP Solicitors looks at Grants of Probate and their importance.

What is a Grant of Probate?

It is a specific type of grant delivered to executors under a will. Other types of grants are available such as a grant of letters of administration which is issued to a relative when the person who has died did not leave a will. The generic term for someone who is administering a deceased person’s estate is ‘personal representative’.

When do I need a Grant of Probate?

A grant is not always required to administer a deceased person’s estate, depending on what assets are present.

  • If all of the deceased’s assets were held in joint accounts with another person, then a grant may not be required to administer an estate
  • If the deceased owned a property in their own name, then a grant will be necessary to transfer or sell the property.
  • If the deceased has cash at a bank or building society exceeding £30,000 it is likely that a grant will be required to close the accounts. Each bank or building society sets its own threshold on when they require a grant so it always best to check with each individual institution first
  • If the deceased had stocks and shares or an interest in a business, it is again very likely that a grant will be needed to transfer or sell the shares or interest in the business

There is therefore not a simple yes or no answer to the question “will I need a grant?”. Each estate is different and requires a case by case approach. It is not uncommon for personal representatives to discover that they urgently need a grant to deal with an asset a few months after a loved one has died. This can give rise to stressful situations which could have been avoided if early specialist advice had been sought at the outset.

How do I obtain a Grant of Probate?

To obtain a grant, it also necessary to report to HMRC what assets are within the estate and to pay any Inheritance tax due. In order to do this, you must obtain date of death valuations of all the assets in the estate. This can be a lengthy task and best tackled early to avoid any delays. Professional valuations are often necessary for investments and properties. It is not unusual to discover further undisclosed assets when you begin to search through a deceased person’s papers.

A grant will not be issued if the relevant Inheritance tax forms and tax have not been paid first. The first instalment of Inheritance tax due must be paid within 6 months of the date of death before interest starts accruing.

How long does it take to get one?

Currently the probate registry has a turnaround time of about 16 weeks to issue a grant. Complex cases can take longer. This is due to the closure of local registries, a change to the court’s systems and forms and the impact of COVID 19. Grants are therefore taking far longer than the traditional 2 weeks to be issued. Personal representatives and beneficiaries need to be aware of this when the grant is applied for.

For more information on Probate and Grants of Probate you can visit our Wills, Trusts and Probate pages here. You can get in contact by filling in the form in the sidebar of this page. Alternatively, you can call us on 01453 847200.


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