Is it possible to fast-track probate?
Preparing for the Probate process
Dealing with someone’s affairs when they have died
Unfortunately, there is no straightforward way of fast-tracking
probate. There is no special process that is available to do it, or extra fee
that you can pay to get it done any quicker. Essentially there are three main
stages, and at times you may be reliant on others involved in the process,
which can cause delays. But there are some things that you can do, whether you
are using a solicitor or not, to keep things moving along as quickly as they
Prepare for the grant of probate application
The first stage is preparing to apply for the grant of probate and dealing with any inheritance tax.
This involves finding out what assets the deceased had, valuing them and preparing the necessary probate and tax forms.
Often you will need to contact financial institutions about this, and they will need to see the death certificate. So, it helps to get multiple official certified copies of the death certificate.
Start the process as early as you can and get a full understanding of what assets the deceased has and collect useful information such as account numbers and addresses.
It is at this point that you may find that you do not require a grant of probate for example if the deceased held property jointly, as joint tenants with someone else, because that should pass to the surviving owner without grant. However, there are two ways of owning property jointly, as joint tenants where you both own all of it together, in which case it would pass automatically to the survivor. As tenants in common, meaning each owns a defined share, the deceased’s share would pass to whomever benefited under their Will or the rules of intestacy. If property is owned jointly as tenants in common, then a grant of probate would be required. A solicitor is best placed to advise you on that.
If the deceased only had modest amounts of money in bank accounts or investments, then some institutions may transfer the money to beneficiaries without them having to get a grant of probate. How much depends on the institution. Some will do this with up to £15,000, or more, but others will always require a grant of probate. It’s up to them. It’s worth finding out early what a financial institutions policy is because it may save you having to get a grant of probate at all, which would speed things up a lot.
Submit the grant of probate application
The next stage normally is to make the application for the grant of probate and complete any tax forms, which could also involve calculating and paying inheritance tax if any is due. This process can take months as there are sometimes delays at the Probate Registry.
Using a solicitor to ensure that all the forms are correctly completed can be useful and save time at this point. Solicitors are familiar with the forms and should know what they are doing, so there is less chance of a mistake causing a delay in processing the application. Mistakes can cause considerable delays.
Manage collection and distribution of assets
The final stage is usually collection and distribution, which is done after you have the grant of probate. Again, whether you are doing this yourself or with a solicitor it helps if you have found out where all the assets are and who the beneficiaries are. A good solicitor should have a collection and distribution plan so that they are gathering everything as quickly as they can and know those to whom it should go. The estate’s debts, such as utilities, credit cards, etc., will also need to be paid so it is useful if you have already got together details of what the deceased owed before this point.
A good solicitor should keep careful records to show what money has come into the estate and been distributed out. If you are dealing with the estate yourself as an executor, then you need to do that to keep track of everything and in case any beneficiary or potential beneficiary challenges anything.
You can search for a solicitor who specialises in Probate by searching our site for free and without having to provide any of your personal data at search4legal.co.uk, then simply type “probate” into the search bar and press “enter”.