A third of people expect to wait 4-6 months for inheritance

14 May 2018

Co-op Legal Services explains how planning ahead can simplify probate

  • 37% of people expect to receive their inheritance within four to six months of a loved one passing away*
  • Average time it takes to complete a probate case is nearly 11 months*

According to Co-op, some exceptionally complicated probate cases can take as long as 8.5 years to complete, while less complex cases have been finalised within 60 days.

More than a third of people expect to receive their inheritance within four to six months of a loved one passing away (37%), according to research conducted on behalf of Co-op Legal Services.*

The market leading probate services provider is advising that in reality, the average time it takes to finalise the administration and for inheritances to be paid out, can be longer, depending on a range of circumstances. Of those who had carried out probate for someone, the average time it took to complete the administration of the estate was almost 11 months.

In England and Wales, probate is the word often used to describe the legal, tax and financial processes involved in dealing with the property, money and possessions (called the assets) of a person who has died. Before the executor named in the Will or the next of kin can administer a deceased’s estate they may have to apply for a Grant of Probate. However, depending on the value of the estate and how assets are held, a Grant of Probate may not be required.

Co-op is urging people to understand that there are various factors that can make administering an estate more complicated, impacting on the time taken to complete the process, as more than one in 10 people (13%) believes that it takes less than three months to distribute an estate. Those in the North East think it takes the least amount of time to wind up an estate (six months on average), while Londoners are the most conservative, believing it takes around 12 months.

Co-op Legal Services has seen instances of exceptionally complicated cases taking up to eight and a half years, while the shortest case has been finalised within 60 days. Factors impacting the complexity of a probate case can include:
- ownership of a business or agricultural assets
- complex disputes, e.g. where a will is contested
- cross-border estates, i.e. with assets in more than one jurisdiction

Currently, more than two in five people (45%) don’t have a Will.** This means the administration of the deceased’s estate would be governed by the law, under what is known as the Rules of Intestacy and an ‘Administrator’ will be appointed to carry out the role instead.

Gavin Holt, Head of Probate at Co-op Legal Services, explains:

“Whether you’re an executor named in a Will, or the next of kin in the absence of a Will, dealing with the estate of a loved one can be difficult. It’s not something that comes around very often, and people often don’t know where to begin. There is a lot of paperwork involved, and navigating through everything can be stressful at what is already a difficult and emotional time. Whilst we have seen that the time taken to complete probate cases is decreasing over the years, we are committed to doing even more to simplify and speed up the process.

“Having to navigate through all the forms and paperwork can be tricky and it doesn’t help the grieving process. There isn’t a one option fits all approach when it comes to probate, so executors and relatives should consider if they feel able to take on the responsibility alone, or if they would feel more comfortable asking for help from a probate solicitor or other specialist in the field. As with all legal work, it’s very important to get probate right, and a lot of peace of mind can come from handing it over to an expert.”

Co-op Legal Services offers free initial advice and guidance on probate, and always charges on a fixed fee basis, recognising that customers value having certainty from the outset on the costs involved. For more information visit: www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/probate

Things to think about:
- Make a will to ensure your wishes are clear and legally binding. If you don’t, you risk disappointing those close to you or you could leave them in financial difficulty
- Talk to the executor of your will in advance, to ensure they have a clear idea of your wishes and to ensure they have a clear idea of your assets and where they can locate things like bank account details
- Make sure your financial and other important paperwork all in one place, and make sure your chosen executor knows where to find it. That will save the executor a lot of time when it comes to the initial information gathering that has to take place.
- Think about digital assets - individuals can leave details of online accounts they hold in a sealed letter alongside their will and addressed to their executors to ensure that their digital lives are not missed, or forgotten about, once they have passed away. Additional information may need to be stored outside the will, as passwords and user names should not be included in the document as this may be made public after the death.
- If you are an owner of a business think about agreeing and putting in place a legally binding business succession plan.
- If you have a particularly complex or high value estate, seek professional tax planning advice to ensure you have explored the options available to support your personal circumstances

Co-op has recently launched the biggest ever survey into death, dying and bereavement as it seeks to lead the way in tackling the taboo around this subject. Supported by a number of national charities linked to death and later life, Co-op is aiming to reach tens of thousands of people across the UK. It will gather opinions from consumers, funeral directors, charities and Co-op members – asking them to give their views on death, bereavement and funeral wishes via coop.co.uk/survey.***

Ends

Media Contacts

Alexandra Wilson
PR Manager
Email: Alexandra.wilson1@coop.co.uk
Mobile: 07540 641368

Notes to editors

*Research conducted by Atomik among 2,000 UK adults on behalf of Co-op in March 2018

**Research conducted by Atomik among 2,000 UK adults on behalf of Co-op in 2017

***The survey will be conducted by YouGov

About Co-op Legal Services

Co-op Legal Services, became the first alternative business structure (ABS) in the UK in 2012, and has long been established as a market leader in Probate and estate administration and as one of the leading Will writing businesses in the UK.

In April 2018, Co-op acquired Simplify Probate, the UK’s second largest provider of probate, cementing the Co-op’s position as the leading provider of probate in the UK. Simplify Probate, which is part of the Simplify Group of companies, has been a specialist provider of probate and estate administration for more than 25 years and also runs an established Bereavement Advice Centre which provides access to practical bereavement advice online and by telephone.

In early 2016 the Co-op acquired Collective Legal Solutions. Now fully integrated into the Co-op Legal Services business as Co-op Estate Planning, this complements the business’ online and telephone services by providing face-to-face advice on Wills, Probate and Later Life Planning throughout communities across the UK.