The majority of estates, on average, are settled satisfactorily in an average of six to nine months. However, each case has a unique set of factors that can considerably delay receiving an inheritance. Multiple assets such as properties or stocks and shares will need additional time to be sold and further delays can be caused by complex tax issues or if disputes arise between beneficiaries.
Only after the due course of the law has been followed can funds be distributed.
An oath must be sworn by the executor to confirm any information is accurate before a grant of representation in the form of a grant of probate or letter of administration is obtained. Once the deceased’s assets have been valued and any debts or expenses including the funeral and the fee from the probate solicitors have been paid the final balance is shared between the beneficiaries.
Here is a short video that explains how probate works.
The procedure often depends on the number of beneficiaries and the length of time they take to sign and return documents at each stage of the process. One beneficiary can delay the distribution of everyone’s inheritance by several months.
And estranged beneficiaries who are entitled to a share of the estate have to be traced before the proceedings can even begin.
There is an established legal procedure that must be adhered to when finalising the affairs of a deceased person’s estate. If the deceased left a last will and testament defining each beneficiary’s inheritance the process is much more efficient. Without a will the law decrees who the beneficiaries are and the proportions of their inheritances.
Obtaining the initial grant of representation document as either a grant of probate or letter of administration can take as little as three weeks after you apply for probate.
Once probate has been granted the hard work of valuing the estate of a deceased person begins. The process of tracing missing beneficiaries, liaising with banks, supervising the sale of property and settling debts can be made considerably easier by appointing a probate solicitor.
Both grant of probate lasting power of attorney are important documents that allow a representative to act on behalf of the deceased.
A grant of probate is also referred to as a grant of representation and has to be obtained before any assets of the deceased’s estate can be collected by the executor.
A lasting power of attorney is a document that is issued and in force during the deceased’s lifetime granting a relative the power to administer his or her financial affairs in the event of mental incapacity.
If the deceased arranged estate planning during his or her lifetime there will in all likelihood be a will. This is a legal document that categorically states what the deceased wanted to happen to any assets after death and is the only reliable way to determine who receives them. The wording of a will must be indisputable and the document must have been correctly signed before witnesses.
In addition, estate planning allows you to think about the consequences of inheritance tax being paid on your estate. Therefore, advance planning allows you to mitigate the amount of tax that is paid after you have gone. Here is an article with a bunch of tips on avoiding inheritance tax.
If the deceased died intestate or without a will then a document known as a letter of administration has to be applied for.
It is another version of a grant of representation and allows the executor the right to take charge of the deceased’s assets. The document’s power is exactly the same as a grant of probate.
Some relatives try to avoid reducing their inheritance through probate costs by carrying out the procedure themselves.
However, the workings of the legal process can be daunting at times and it’s usually much quicker if experienced probate solicitors are appointed particularly if the deceased’s financial assets are complex. A probate solicitor is also well-versed in how the law differs in each area within the UK.
Contentious probate is where a beneficiary challenges the details of an estate’s value or distribution. The situation usually requires the assistance of experienced probate solicitors. It’s an unfortunate fact that bitter disputes can arise over the value of the deceased’s assets or which beneficiaries are entitled to inherit money or property.
This is determined by how much an estate is worth once every asset such as insurance policies, property and valuable personal belongings have been included. If the total value exceeds the current personal allowance of £325,000 then the estate is subject to capital gains tax.
There are exemptions such as an estate passing in its entirety to a spouse not having any capital gains tax to pay.
It is the estate’s administrator who has to calculate and pay inheritance tax from the assets. The amount of tax can be determined by income from employment, overseas investments and monetary gifts allocated as tapered relief.
Appointing an experienced probate solicitor will help to identify tax exemptions and avoid incurring additional costs through not paying by the designated deadline.
When you apply for probate the documentation can be issued in less than a month.
The closure of bank accounts and insurance policies is relatively straightforward but the sale of property or business shares then calculating tax and identifying exemptions can be difficult. Seeking professional assistance from probate solicitors is the most reliable way to receive an inheritance within a shorter timeframe.