How Long Does it Take to apply for a Grant of Probate in England and Wales?


It is a difficult time when a loved one passes and figuring out the process afterwards when it comes to what to do about their Will, estate, assets, debts, or inheritance tax if it is payable can add to the stress.  A grant of probate is a document that proves you are the appointed Executor of a Will and after it has been proved (which means that it can be used), you can collect assets, pay debts, and distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries. 

A Probate Lawyer is usually the most well equipped for this and able to help you through the process, but there are commonly asked questions surrounding the timeline and understanding the process.

How long does probate take?

On average, the probate process can be around 12 months to two years to complete. This can take longer if the estate becomes complicated and many factors can affect how long it takes.  Revenue and customs authorities can take up to five months to process the inheritance tax.  In order to complete this process more quickly, it is helpful to pay the inheritance tax as soon as possible.  This might mean borrowing money or obtaining a bridging loan to pay the inheritance tax as the loved one’s assets cannot be accessed without the Grant of Probate.

Applying for a Grant of Probate where the loved one left a Will:

Typically, applying for a Grant where the loved one left a Will is quicker than one without.  

There are factors that can affect the amount of time that it takes:

  • Knowledge of the assets and liabilities that comprise the person’s estate.  We at Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors often advise our clients to keep a lever arch file which has the details in dividers so that the Executors can easily find them.
  • The size of the estate
  • The complexity of the estate
  • How much is known about the assets in the estate
  • The time it takes for your probate provider to prepare your application

When submitting an application for a Grant of Probate, there are details you will need to prepare for as soon as possible:

  • Getting the property valued
  • Having paperwork stating where all the assets and liabilities are.
  • Corresponding with assets holders such as banks, pension providers, and other financial institutes to find out about how much money is in each account
  • Gather information about debts or gifts within the last 7 years
  • Calculating how much inheritance tax is owed
  • Using the government’s Tell Us Once service

Considering the complex legal and tax issues that might be resolved when a loved one has died, the probate process can be a burden as well as time consuming. The probate application will take time to process and depending on how it  is handled, it can greatly impact the stress levels for the family.

Who can apply for probate?

If the loved one left a Will, they will have appointed Executors.  They are the people who will apply for the Grant of Probate.

What factors can affect how long it takes to obtain the probate?

Depending on the complexity of the estate, there are varying factors that can affect the probate process.

Contentious probate happens when there are disagreements over the deceased person’s Will which cannot be resolved by the family without help. Disputes will delay the process and prevent any of the estate from being administered until the issues have been resolved. When there is property involved with the estate, it becomes much more difficult compared to money or other physical assets. If assets are held overseas, it is a longer and more complex process to obtain the assets as a Probate Lawyer may have to be instructed to deal with that part of the estate.  If an Executor does not have enough time to handle the probate, the process will take longer. Hiring a Probate Lawyer can help the process along quicker if this is the case.

Trusted Probate Services with Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

Managing the probate process can be exhausting and daunting, especially while mourning the loss of a loved one. Disputes or complex issues within the Will can make this process that much more cumbersome and it is understandable why an Executor would need help managing through such a challenging time.

At Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors, we want to help. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a consultation.