How long does probate take?
The answer to the question “how long does probate take?” is similar to the one when asked “how long is a piece of string?”
The duration of the probate process all depends on the size and complexity of the estate. Are all the executors and beneficiaries in touch with each other and aware of the death? Are there any arguments about the contents of the will? Did the deceased have assets in the UK only or abroad?
Probate can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In rare cases, where there are valuable assets and complicated disputes, this can stretch into years. However, this should never be the case with relatively simple estates.
And so it was particularly disturbing to learn of a solicitor in Chester who delayed probate on a will for four years.
The solicitor, who was fined £3000, led the beneficiaries to believe that as executor, he was dealing with probate and it was progressing smoothly when in fact, he had failed to apply for probate and to identify the deceased’s assets.
It was only when Canadian lawyers took out a judgment against him, and when his law firm was inspected by the Law Society, that his failings came to light.
Not only had he not dealt with probate in this case, he had also paid over £4000 into the wrong account.
The man did not appear in court but in his defence, said that he had simply been overcome with work pressures and had failed to deal with three probate case files.
He was ordered to pay £2000 compensation to the beneficiaries and £3000 costs.