02 May 2023

When will I get my inheritance? England’s probate problems

Daniel McCloud Chartered Legal Executive
Sand timer in front of clock

When will I get my inheritance? As common as this question is, the answer is unfortunately not straightforward says Daniel McCloud, chartered legal executive in our Wills, estates, tax & trusts team.

Every estate is different and a variety of factors affect the time in which an estate is administered, including the inheritance tax position, complexities of assets, property marketing and sales, and locating missing beneficiaries.

If you are a pecuniary legatee (someone who is set to receive a set sum of money under an estate), funds held within an estate can sometimes be paid out to the legatees before the administration of the estate is complete. There are, however, a number of caveats to this.

The first is the executor’s year. Starting from the date of death, the personal representatives have 12 months in which to gather information on the estate, pay any inheritance tax due, and check for potential claims. This means that the personal representatives are under no obligation to distribute the estate within the first 12 months from the date of death.

Even after the end of the executor’s year, there may still be good reasons for delays in finalising and distributing the estate. Examples may include the length of time properties take to sell or locating missing beneficiaries.

If, however, matters are complete before the expiration of the executor’s year, the estate can be finalised.

The second involves claims made against the estate by individuals under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 (IPFDA 1975).

IPFDA 1975 was enacted to enable certain categories of people such as a spouse, civil partner, or children to claim against an estate if they feel they have not been sufficiently provided for under the estate.

There are a number of factors considered when assessing a claim under IPFDA 1975, all of which are set out in the 1975 Act.

If you are dealing with the administration of an estate, whether the deceased left a Will or not, advice for the personal representatives is to wait until at least 10 months after the rant of Representation has been issued. 

The reason is that a claimant has six months from the issue of a Grant of Representation to issue a claim and a further four months to serve the claim on the personal representatives after the six-month period has ended.

If you would like any further guidance on estate administration, then please contact the Wills, estates, tax & trusts team.  

Daniel McCloud, Wilkin Chapman LLP
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