When a loved one dies, it’s natural to want to wrap up their affairs correctly and promptly so you can grieve peacefully. Unfortunately, however, certain issues can cause probate delays which make it hard for the estate to be dealt with in good time. Let’s look at some common reasons for probate delays, and how Kent tax advisors can set you off on the right foot.
The Covid-19 Pandemic
As gloomy as it sounds, the pandemic resulted in many unforeseen deaths. This has exacerbated and delayed the probate process, with lockdowns forcing legal professionals to handle issues over the phone instead of face-to-face. Thankfully, as we learn to live with Covid-19 and adapt to the ‘new normal,’ the backlog is clearing and clients can now seek more prompt professional help, including probate applications. Grant of Probate is, after all, required in most circumstances, allowing the executor to handle the financial affairs of the deceased.
System updates by the probate registry have historically impacted probate timescales and this seemed to be the case too back in January when a new update was made. The waiting time for probate was around 12 weeks. However, changes have been made to help streamline the probate application process for excepted estates, and are sure to be welcomed by executors and legal professionals. So what happened? The Inheritance Tax (Delivery of Accounts)(Excepted Estates)(Amendment) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 January 2022. These regulations mean that excepted estates (where no Inheritance Tax is due), will no longer need to complete forms IHT205 and IHT217, speeding up the process.
Lack of a Will
When someone dies, a Will leaves a clear set of instructions as to how an estate should be divided and handled. Inheritance wishes are laid out and any specific requests are made. This makes it easy for the executor of the Will to wrap up the deceased’s affairs quickly. Delays come when there’s no Will or no clear instructions as to where the Will can be found. Those dealing with a deceased person’s estate should make every effort to try to locate the Will before relying on the Rules of Intestacy, and this can of course take time. If a copy of the Will is found, then this can be used, but only if those who could be adversely affected by it agree (namely those who would stand to inherit under the deceased’s Intestacy Rules).
One of the best ways to avoid delays therefore, is to write a Will and to ensure it’s easy to find. If you do face complications, contact a Kent accountant for probate services for further advice.
Disagreements and Disputes
As many people know, the death of a loved one can also lead to a whole host of disagreements and disputes, particularly over inheritance arrangements. It’s not uncommon for people to argue over the validity of the Will itself. And if the named executor on the Will has passed away without it being changed, this can cause difficulties and delays to the probate process too.Are you looking for a career in the field of accounting? CPAExam’s comprehensive list of CPA review courses can immensely help you in your decision-making and preparation.
Probate issues can be avoided, but help is available if you find yourself involved with a complex case.