Grant of Probate Delays Continue to Rise in the UK, Why?

Grant of Probate Delays

Families out there who are attempting to administer the estate of a loved one continue to be faced with frequent delays with their applications for a Grant of Probate. A recent article published by STEP reported that around 23,572 applications were received in January by the HM Courts and Tribunal Service. This is a massive increase compared to the previous month, which only saw 18,275 applications. That increased trajectory continues and is just one of the factors which are leading to delays in issuing grants of probate.

What is Probate?

Probate is common in England and Wales when someone passes away, and their family need to deal with the administration of their estate. Probate is the word used in order to describe the financial and legal process surrounding property, possessions and money for a person who has passed away.

Probate is the process necessary to prove that a will is valid. It also proves who is officially authorised to administer the estate of the individual who has died. Before anything can be done with the assets that make up the estate of the deceased, the next of kin or executor will need to apply for a grant of probate.

What is a Grant of Probate

A grant of probate is the official legal document which is assigned to the executor so that they can access bank accounts, settle debts and sell the assets of someone who has passed away. It should be noted that this document is only referred to as a grant of probate when someone leaves a will; otherwise, it is referred to as a grant of letters of administration. Both of these documents work in a very similar way to one another.

Once probate has been granted, it means that whoever was left in charge of the will is able to deal with the deceased person’s assets. If there has been a will left, then this process is much more straightforward as the will is going to lay out where everything should go and who should benefit from what assets.

The Probate Process

A lot of tax, financial and legal work goes into the probate process. The steps necessary include the following:

  • Phase 1: The first thing to do is identify all of the deceased’s assets. All of the liabilities and debts which are owed by the deceased also need to be properly worked out. Steps also need to be taken in order to work out who is entitled to inherit what as per the terms laid out in the will.
  • Phase 2: Inheritance tax needs to be paid to HMRC wherever it is applicable. Afterwards, an application to the Probate Registry will be made for the grant of representation, which is a document outlining who has the legal authority to administer the estate.
  • Phase 3: Once the grant of representation has been assigned, whoever is administering the estate is going to be responsible for liquidating different assets and settling the liabilities of the deceased. Accounting for HMRC and expenses for administration and accounting should also be settled.
  • Phase 4: The estate accounts need to be prepared so that all payments can be made into and out of the estate. This will reveal the balance left and, subsequently, what is going to be sent out to the beneficiaries.
  • Phase 5: So long as there aren’t any complicating factors that will get in the way of the distribution, the final phase of the process involves simply transferring different assets to the beneficiaries.

Why Are There Delays for Grants of Probate?

As discussed above, there are an increasing number of applications made for a grant of probate, and naturally, the process is delayed following such an increase. That being said, there are other factors that can also lead to a delay in the grant of the probate application process. Some of the most common causes of delays include the following:

  • Missing Documents: A lot of the time, delays tend to be caused when the documents needed to support the application aren’t submitted at the same time as the application.
  • Missing Information About Inheritance Tax (IHT): As discussed throughout the process above, inheritance tax needs to be paid before the application can officially be approved. As such, the forms for inheritance tax need to be filled in and submitted 20 days before the application is made. If this isn’t done, then it could lead to undue delays.
  • Missing Executors: The whole point of getting a grant of probate is so that executors are able to start settling debts and distributing work to beneficiaries; as such, information about the executors needs to be available when the application is made. If this isn’t done, then it could cause delays as the court will need to find out information about who the executor is.
  • Questions About the Condition of the Will: There are a number of laws and restrictions put in place in order to make sure that a Will is legitimate. As such, in order to lessen the risk of fraud as much as possible, if there are any stains on a will, staple holes, tears or pages missing, these could all be questioned, slowing down the process.
  • An Inability to Locate the Will: Wills should be registered because this means that they are easier to find. If there are problems locating a will after someone’s death, then it could slow down the process for a grant of probate.

Do You Need Help with Applying for Probate?

As can be seen above, there is a lot that goes into applying for a grant of probate and a number of factors can slow the process down. If you want to speed up your application as much as possible and cut out complications, then be sure to reach out to Probates Online. Our team of experts will be able to help you with your application. If you require any further information, then do not hesitate to get in touch.