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Delays to obtain grant of probate

There have been many articles written recently about how the probate process, essential for managing and distributing a deceased person's estate, has been facing significant delays. Data suggests that over the past three years, the number of probate cases taking more than a year to be granted has increased by 65%, despite the government website stating, “you’ll usually get the grant of probate or letters of administration within 16 weeks of submitting your application”.


These delays come alongside a decision by the Ministry of Justice to raise the standard probate fee by 10% to £300 from May 2024. Grant of probate is crucial for providing legal authority to the executor(s) named in a deceased person’s will, for them to administer the estate.


The consequences of these delays are multi-faceted. Financial strain is a primary concern, as the frozen assets of the deceased can hinder beneficiaries' access to funds necessary for living expenses or future planning. Properties and investments, held in limbo without probate, face management challenges and potential financial losses. Tax liabilities, distribution delays, and legal challenges further compound the issues. The delays can also have a significant emotional toll on grieving families over an unnecessarily extended period of time.


So, what can be done?

Well, whilst Level is unable to speed up the process with HMRC, we do provide various products that can help ease the process:


Inheritance advance

Level may allow you to release up to 60% of your inheritance early, which can be used for whatever you require, such as:


  • Clearing tax liabilities or other debts

  • Putting down a deposit on a new property

  • Financing home improvements

  • Purchasing a new vehicle

  • Education, medical, veterinary costs

  • Paying for a holiday


Estate expense & IHT funding

During the administration period of an estate (i.e. the period after death, but before the estate assets have been distributed to beneficiaries) there are certain administration, testamentary and tax costs to be paid.  Estate Administration Fees (excluding Inheritance Tax (‘IHT’)) can cost around 5% of the estate value.

 

If the estate is unable to pay these, it may delay the process of planning a funeral, grant of probate, selling assets and ultimately paying out the inheritance to the beneficiaries. These delays can create strain on family relationships with beneficiaries questioning the efficiency of the executor.


Level’s estate expense and IHT funding allows executors to unlock a proportion of the estate to pay IHT, funeral costs and other estate liabilities such as:


  • Property repairs and maintenance

  • Property clearance costs

  • Professional fees such as probate, valuers and surveyors

 

This has the benefit of providing financial support to executors or personal representatives liable for paying the testamentary expenses, as well ensuring that the beneficiaries will receive their inheritance as soon as possible.

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