How long can a solicitor hold money after probate?

Pile of different types of money

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.

First steps in the process

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.

The solicitor’s procedure after the funds have been released

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

What is the timescale for the distribution of assets?

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?

6 thoughts on “How long can a solicitor hold money after probate?

  1. Gary Lockett says:

    When the sale of deceased parents house is complete, does the lawyer distribute inheritance funds via cheque or bank transfer?

    • Peter Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog Gary.

      It will depend upon the solicitor firm’s policy as to whether funds are remitted by cheque or bank transfer. Please note that there is sometimes a charge for the latter.

      It’s best to check with them.

      Peter Johnson
      Senior Partner

  2. Daniella says:

    Hi there

    I came across your blog online and wanted to seek some advice.

    I’m a beneficiary after a very long process of intestate. The accounts have been signed for and the solicitors are gathering everyone’s ID and bank details. I’ve been advised no funds will be released until all of this has been settled. Is this correct? I was originally advised it would take a couple of weeks to then be told months and I need this money to pay for something.

    • Peter Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog.

      The short answer is that is will depend what instructions the administrator of the estate has provided to their solicitors.

      It is not unusual to wait until all beneficiaries have provided their ID and associated documents but by the same token, it is far from unheard of for each beneficiary to be paid their portion of the estate once they have satisfied those requirements.

      In the circumstances I would ask the administrator if they would be willing to release your inheritance now, rather than having to wait for everyone else.

      I hope this helps.

  3. Angel says:

    Hi who pays out to the beneficiaries after a house has been sold is it the probate solicitor or the conveyance solicitor and how long before recieving money

    • Peter Johnson says:

      Thank you for your interest in our blog, Angel.

      Whilst I cannot comment on the precise circumstances of your case as I have not seen any of the papers, I can advise generally as follows.

      On the sale of a probate property the net proceeds would usually be paid by the conveyancing solicitor to the estate’s account or to the solicitor acting on the probate rather than the beneficiaries direct. Note I do say usually as it will depend on the instructions of the executors under the will.

      As to the length of time for funds to be released it would depend upon the stage that the administration of the estate had reached and you would be best raising that question with the executors who in turn can raise it with the probate solicitors.

      I trust that this helps.

      Peter Johnson
      Senior Partner

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