How long can a solicitor hold money after probate?

In today’s blog we look at the procedure involved in probate after the grant of probate is issued and give you some ideas as to the length of time that is reasonable for a solicitor to release monies to beneficiaries.

Once the grant of probate or letter of administration is received, the first thing your solicitors will do is send it to any financial institutions where the deceased person had an account. This includes banks, mortgage companies and insurance firms, who will usually refuse to release funds without this document.

As soon as your solicitor has access to the funds, they may need to pay an initial instalment of inheritance tax. They 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, your solicitor will 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 they have placed a Creditor’s Notice, they should wait until the minimum two-month response period is up before they 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

It is difficult to give any precise timescale for distribution of the assets especially when the sale of property and pensions are involved as there are often third parties involved. The Creditor’s Notice which is advertised in The Gazette has a two-month response period therefore beneficiaries should not expect any assets to be released during this period. After this time, the solicitor may be able to (depending on the size of the estate) start making interim payments to the beneficiaries. Your solicitor does however have a professional obligation to deal with the matter within a reasonable period of time and not to unduly delay the administration.

If you require a solicitor to deal with obtaining probate or the administration of an estate, or if you feel that your current lawyers are unduly delaying the administration, why not give one of Alexander JLO’s expert probate lawyers a call and see what we can do for you?

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