What happens after probate is closed in the UK?
Probate is an important legal process that allows you to transfer the assets of a person who has died to their beneficiaries. It can be complex and time-consuming, but once probate closes it will be possible for you to access your loved one’s property and distribute it as desired. In this article, we’ll take a look at what happens after probate closes in the UK, including how long it takes before any funds are released from an estate.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process of proving that a will is valid and of subsequently administering the estate.
The Grant of Probate allows you (as Executor) to deal with the estate of someone who has died. It means you’re responsible for paying off their debts and taxes, as well as distributing their assets in whatever way they specified before they died. Once probate has been completed, this responsibility falls away from your shoulders and onto those of whoever inherits from the deceased – if there are any inheritances left over after all other debts have been paid off.
It can be a long and expensive process, which can be avoided by using a solicitor.
When probate closes
Probate closes when the executor has collected all the assets, paid all the debts and distributed the estate to the beneficiaries. It can be closed earlier if:
- The executor is able to prove that there are no assets or debts left in your estate.
- Where there is an intestacy (which is where someone dies without making a will) and there are no living relatives who would inherit under English law.
The end of probate
Once probate is closed, the executor’s duties as a representative of the estate are over. They can no longer act for the estate and are discharged from their responsibilities. The executor can now be paid any fees owed to them by the beneficiaries or heir(s).
The final stage of probate involves paying any outstanding debts and taxes and distributing any remaining assets according to the terms of the Will (in theory). If there are no outstanding debts then all money is given away but if there are some debts then they must first be paid before anything else happens.
However probate isn’t necessarily over once it’s closed; it might be ongoing for some time afterwards. For example, if someone dies without leaving instructions to the person administering their estate (known as an “executor”) about what happens with their money or possessions or that person fails to act properly or at all, then closing probate doesn’t mean anything has actually changed yet. Another person will still need to take charge of everything until the estate administration has been completed.
For most people, though – those who do have clear instructions from their loved ones – this process will only last around six months at most from start to finish (although it can be much longer). But once everything is officially resolved then there’s nothing stopping a smooth closing of probate.