On Hold: Understanding the Executor Wait After Probate

If you have been left a legacy in someone’s Will, you may be wondering how soon it will be distributed to you. We take a look at the probate process and why executors may wait a while before making payments to beneficiaries. How long is the executor wait after probate and can an executor distribute assets before probate is granted?

After someone’s death, their executor or administrator will deal with the winding up of their estate. This includes selling valuable items, encashing shares and policies and clearing and selling property. Before this can be done, they will need to apply for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration giving them the necessary authority.

The whole process can be lengthy, but it is also the case that executors or administrators will also often wait for a period of time before distributing funds. This can be frustrating, but there are several good reasons why you may not receive your legacy straightaway.

Why executors wait before distributing an estate
Clearing debts

Firstly, the executor will want to wait until all of the estate’s debts have been identified and all of the assets collected in. When the estate has funds to hand, the liabilities will start being cleared. In some cases, the executor may have trouble identifying all debts. In this case they may need to place statutory advertisements in the press asking creditors to come forward.

If an executor fails to clear all of the estate’s debts, they can be held personally liable. Therefore they will want to make completely sure they have done all they can to locate creditors.

Statutory advertisements are those placed in the Gazette and in a local newspaper covering the area where the deceased lived. Advising of their death and giving creditors notice that they should notify the executor of any money they are owed.

By placing these adverts, the executor or administrator can protect themselves from personal liability in the future.

Locating beneficiaries

The same applies to locating beneficiaries. For example, if someone died without leaving a Will and it is not certain how many eligible beneficiaries there are. By placing statutory advertisements asking potential beneficiaries to come forward can discharge the administrator’s liability.

The adverts should be allowed to run for two months.

Waiting to see if the Will is challenged

It is also the case that a Will could be challenged. If this is the case it is preferable that the estate has not been distributed. By waiting ten months, the executor has the chance to see whether anyone is going to raise an objection. There are six months from the date of the Grant of Probate in which to commence a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Then a further four months in which to serve the claim.

If it has already taken several months to obtain the Grant of Probate, this can mean that an estate is not distributed for well over a year.

What to do if you are waiting to receive a legacy from an estate

If you are entitled to receive something from someone’s estate, you could consider requesting an interim payment while you wait for the administration to be completed. However, it is up to the executor or administrator whether they agree to this.

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