How long does the probate process take?

Traditionally, applying for probate has been a complex, expensive process that can take many months to get sorted. But there are now options available to help make things quicker, simpler and more affordable.

by June Yap
December 10, 2019

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Losing a close friend or relative is one of the hardest things any of us will ever have to go through. And between grieving, planning the funeral and trying to keep your life on track, applying for probate can feel like an unnecessary burden.

For generations, the method of applying for probate hasn't helped the situation. People would approach their local probate solicitors to start the process, but things would then drag on for months on end, often with no communication for weeks at a time. And all the while, the legal fees would mount up.

But before getting into how to apply for probate and how long the probate process takes, let's cover a few of the basics.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal document from the government that grants you access to someone's estate after their death. It's required after around 50% of deaths in the UK.

Probate can be needed whether there was a will or not, so it's important to speak to an expert to check whether probate is required in your case.

Why do I need to apply for probate?

If you're the executor of a will or a family member dealing with your loved one's estate, you may need to apply for a grant of probate.

This is to prove to banks, share registrars, the Land Registry, pensions providers and others that you're legally authorised to release funds or allow for property to be sold.

How much does the probate process cost?

If you've spoken to any probate solicitors in your local area, you may have heard the term estate administration mentioned. This is something many people end up getting when they apply for probate through their high street solicitor – but it could mean you end up paying much more than you need to.

Here, we'll cover the two main options available and how they differ in price.

1. Getting a grant of probate

If you're happy to sell property, close down bank accounts and distribute money in accordance with your loved one's wishes, you could save thousands by choosing a simpler probate service.

This is one of the services we offer at Farewill. Our probate specialists provide fixed, upfront fees so you're totally clear on the costs before getting started. For simple cases, we charge £595 to get the grant of probate, and in more complex cases, our fee is £1,045. You can find out more about the cost of probate here.

2. Full estate administration

If you're uncomfortable handling all the admin that comes with distributing the estate, or you feel like the estate is simply too complicated, you may choose to pay a probate solicitor to do this for you.

The fees for this can vary depending on the size of the estate and how many assets need to be dealt with. But it’s not uncommon to see prices in excess of £5,000 from probate solicitors on the high street.

Our estate administration partner offers a fixed-fee service based on the complexity of the estate – so you don’t have to worry about the cost mounting up over time. If you’re thinking about choosing full estate administration and would like a free, no obligation quote, call our specialists on 020 3695 1713.

How long does the probate process take?

The time it takes to deal with probate really depends on the complexity of the estate, the people you choose to deal with it, and the probate registry itself. We always aim to get probate for our clients within 30 working days, however, this has been difficult in recent months due to a huge backlog of applications at the probate registry.

Here, we’ll walk you through the key steps involved and how long each of them takes.

Step 1: Preparing your probate application

It all starts with a phone call to discuss the details of your application. We’ll ask you about the person whose estate you’re dealing with, the approximate value of their assets and where their money is kept – e.g. property, bank accounts, pensions. This usually takes around 30 minutes.

After that, we draft your application within 7 days and send it to you to confirm that all the details are correct. This tends to be a much quicker process than using probate solicitors on the high street because you don’t need to wait around for any appointments.

Step 2: Submitting your probate application

Once you’re happy that everything is in order, we’ll submit your application to the probate registry. It can then take anywhere between 3-6 weeks for your grant to be approved – but this can be longer if there’s a backlog at the probate registry.

One of the biggest complaints with probate solicitors is that they fail to keep families updated during this part of the process. So we make a point of sending you a quick update every week just to let you know how things are going.

Step 3: Distributing the estate

Depending on the complexity of the estate, it usually takes 3-6 months to sell off property, close bank accounts and distribute the assets to any beneficiaries. Using a professional for full estate administration doesn’t necessarily speed this process up, but it does help to take some of the weight off your shoulders.

How to apply for probate

Applying for probate can take a little while, so it’s best to get started sooner rather than later. If you’d like to speak to a specialist about your situation, call us today on 020 3695 1713.

We’ll confirm if you need probate and let you know how long it’s going to take – and we’ll also provide a no obligation quote over the phone.

Has applying for probate made you think about making your own will? You can use our online will writing service to write yours in just 15 minutes.

If you also need to plan a funeral for your loved one, you can read our guide on how to arrange a funeral here.

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