How long is probate, usually? Our simple guide to probate timings will explain everything. Questions? Call 0800 054 9896 to speak to one of our probate experts.

How long does probate take to go through, overall?

The word ‘probate’ often refers to the entire process of settling the estate of someone who has died. From beginning to end, this process usually takes between 9 and 12 months.

That said, in cases where the estate is small and uncomplicated, probate can take less time. Working with an estate administration professional can also help, since they can dedicate more time to it.


How long can probate take, stage by stage?

Broadly speaking, there are three main stages in the probate process:


Gathering documents and information for probate takes 4-8 weeks

Before you can begin dividing up the estate of someone who has died, you will need to fill out an inheritance tax form and (usually) apply for a grant of representation.

To do these things, and plan the rest of the probate process, you’ll need to figure out the size and value of the estate of the person who’s died. So your first step is to gather information. For example:

  • How much is left in their bank account
  • The value of any property they owned
  • The value of their possessions and investments
  • Details of any cash gifts they gave in the last seven years
  • Details of tax owed, plus any other outstanding debts

The forms will also ask for details about the person who’s died, any surviving relatives they may have, their representative – that’s whoever is dealing with the estate – and the will, if there is one. If you need a hand, HMRC has a telephone helpline for support with the Probate Application and Inheritance Tax forms.

What’s a grant of representation?

A grant of representation gives you the ability to pay any outstanding debts on behalf of the person who has died, access and close their bank accounts, settle any inheritance tax, and see that their funds, assets and property are given to the right people.

There are two types of grant in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: if there is a will, you’ll need to apply for a grant of probate. If there isn’t a will, you’ll need a letter of administration instead. In Scotland, you’ll need a certificate of confirmation in both cases.


Applying for the grant of representation takes 4-8 weeks

After you’ve finished the initial paperwork to apply for a grant of representation, you’ll need to sign an oath and swear it formally at your nearest Probate Registry. If the Probate Registry is hard to get to, you might be able to do this at the office of a solicitor that offers a commissioner for oaths instead.

Not sure if you need to do this? Read our guide: ‘When is probate required?’

How long does probate take once submitted?

After you’ve sent out the form, it’s natural to wonder how long the grant of probate will take to arrive (or letter of administration, if you’re settling the estate without a will). Citizens Advice estimates that it takes three to five weeks, as long as the estate is pretty simple to review and the form has been completed properly.


Dividing up the estate takes 6-9 months

Once you have the grant of representation, you’ll be able to access the assets of the person who has died, including their bank accounts, insurance and deeds to their property. You can now pay any debts and tax that were left behind, sell property, pay for the funeral and divide up the remaining estate.


How long does probate take with a will – or without one?

A will usually makes the probate process faster, since it should outline what the estate includes and who should receive what – this can save you weeks of information-gathering time. However, a will can also make the probate process longer by setting out trusts to be established or stipulations to be met; if the will is contested, the probate process can go on for years.


Need a hand with probate?

The full estate administration service here at Beyond includes 24/7 online case tracking, text updates and a dedicated representative to call whenever you have questions. So if you go with us, you don’t have to wonder how long probate will take – you can check your progress any time.

To find out more, request a call back here or give us a ring on 0800 054 9896.


Next in our probate series >> When is Probate Required?

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