What happens when probate has been granted, and how long can you expect to wait before the estate is distributed? Our guide is here to help. Need a hand? Click here or call us on 0800 054 9896 to find out more about our probate and estate administration services.


Once you’ve applied for and received a grant of probate, it’s time to settle the estate. This means closing accounts, collecting funds, paying off debts, resolving any issues with the Department for Work and Pensions, selling assets, paying taxes, and distributing the estate to beneficiaries of the will or the next of kin.

How long does it take to distribute the estate after probate has been granted?

The estate administration process can take a long time, which is naturally frustrating for everyone involved. If you’re the executor of a large estate, you might hear this question a lot, phrased in different ways: “How long after probate is granted will I get my money?”

The simple answer is that once you have a grant of probate or letter of administration in hand, it usually takes between six and nine months to transfer all the funds, assets and property in an estate.

However, timings do depend on how complex the estate is, and whether anything unexpected happens during the estate administration process. There are a lot of things that can have an impact on what happens after probate has been granted. Here are some reasons the estate might take longer than usual to settle:

  • Some assets are held abroad.
  • The executor is unable to contact all of the beneficiaries of the will.
  • There is property to be sold.
  • Important legal paperwork, such as share certificates or deeds, has gone missing.
  • The Department for Work and Pensions needs to investigate the estate.
  • The estate is bankrupt.
  • The will is challenged.

I’ve had probate granted. Now what?

Once you’ve received your grant of probate or letter of administration, the first thing you (or the probate professional acting on your behalf) should do is send it to any financial institutions where the person who has died had an account. This includes banks, mortgage brokers and insurance firms, who will usually refuse to release funds without this document.

As soon as you have access to the funds, you may need to pay an initial instalment of inheritance tax. You may also need or want to place a Creditor’s Notice in the Gazette, the Public Record, and local papers, in case the estate has any unknown debts.

When the financial institutions involved with the estate have released funds, you can go on to (not necessarily in this order):

  • Pay the bill for the funeral.
  • Start paying beneficiaries.
  • Deal with any outstanding enquiries from the Department for Work and Pensions. This step, if it’s necessary, can take a long time.
  • Sell shares and other assets or transfer them to beneficiaries. If you’ve placed a Creditor’s Notice, you should wait until the minimum two-month response period is up before you do this.
  • Pay any remaining debts.
  • Sell or transfer any property.
  • Finalise any outstanding legal work, such as setting up Trusts.
  • Pay the full amount of inheritance tax and any outstanding income tax.
  • Finalise your records and make any outstanding distributions to beneficiaries.

Estate administration is a big undertaking, especially at a time when you’re grieving. If you need help and advice, or you’re looking for a professional executor to take it on for you, give Beyond a call on 0800 054 9896 today or click here to request a call back.

>>Next in our probate series: What is Inheritance Tax?

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