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  1. Blog
  2. Can you track a probate application?
House selling tips
01 November 2023

Can you track a probate application?

Kimberley Taylor
Writer & Researcher

Table of contents

  1. 1. The probate process
  2. 2. Dealing with the estate
  3. 3. Can you track a probate application in the UK?
  4. 4. How to track probate applications
  5. 5. How long does a probate application in the UK take?
  6. 6. What happens after you've received grant of probate?
  7. 7. Summary: Online tracking services are the key!

Probate applications can be a long and confusing process, especially if you have a complex estate to deal with. But once you've got everything in order as the executor - you've valued the deceased's estate, you've filled out the inheritance tax forms, you've paid off any debts liable - it's time to start the probate application process.

And while getting grant of probate takes a different amount of time depending on the complexity of the case, there are a few ways everyone can keep updated with the process.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about how to track a probate application, and what happens afterwards.

Let's dive in!

The probate process

Once the probate process is complete, you'll get a document that allows you to begin dealing with the estate. If the deceased person left a will, you'll get a grant of probate. If there aren't named executors on the will, or the executors named can't apply for probate, you'll get 'letters of administration with will annexed.' If the deceased person didn't leave a will, you'll get 'letters of administration'. You'll need to send these documents to the organisations that hold the deceased person's assets, like their bank.

To find out more about leaving someone property in a will, check out one of our previous blogs.

It usually takes 4-8 weeks from the date you submitted your probate application to get grant of probate, but it can take longer if you need to give more information.

If you ordered copies of these legal documents to use outside of the UK, these will also take longer to arrive. And if there are any errors with the probate document, you'll need to return it to the district probate registry listed on it.

While the application process takes 4-8 weeks, the entire probate process will take around six months for a simple will and estate. This means from the date the person dies to the distribution of the entire estate. And as always, if the estate is more complex, the process may take longer.

Dealing with the estate

The grant of probate will include all the information you need to handle the deceased's estate, such as:

  • The date of death.
  • The date grant of probate was granted (any claims must be made within six months of the date probate is granted).
  • If the deceased was living in the UK or abroad.
  • If there's a will or the deceased died intestate (without a will).
  • The administrators or executors named.
  • The net value of the deceased's estate.

Can you track a probate application in the UK?

Short answer? Yes. It's possible to track a probate application in the UK. In fact, there are a number of different ways you can track a probate application.

However, beneficiaries of the deceased's estate or family are limited in what they can do - all they're able to do is find out if a grant of probate or letters of administration have been granted. You can only track the progress of a probate application if you are the person applying.

How to track probate applications

Probate tracking system

The Probate Tracking System is an online service run by the UK's HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS). You need to provide the case number for your probate application, as well as the deceased person's name, after which you'll be able to track the progress of your probate application.

As part of the online probate application process, you'll create login information for an online account which you can use to track it. Under the 'Status' tab, followed by the 'Event History' tab, the probate service will update your record with progress, detailing each step of the process so you can track it step by step.

For example, if there is a delay in the application (such as the case worker needing some legal advice), you may see the status as 'Stopped'. Other common statuses include 'Examining', 'Awaiting documentation', 'Ready to issue', and - the one everyone's waiting for - 'Grant issued'.

Once you've got grant of probate, you'll be able to search for it on the government's website, and get a copy for a small fee. Only the people who apply for probate will have access to this information.

Specialist solicitor or probate professional

Another way to track a probate application is through a specialist probate solicitor or probate professional. They have the same level of access and same information as the Probate Tracking System, so will be able to give you progress updates.

The courts

If you didn't make an online account, you can also wait for the courts to update you on the progress of your probate application.

How long does a probate application in the UK take?

This question doesn't really come with a simple, one size fits all answer.

How long the application takes depends on a lot of different factors, from how complex the estate is to disputes with the will. On average, the government guidelines state a grant of probate application takes around eight weeks from the application submission date to the date probate is granted. However, a more complex case will take much longer than this (by the same token, a simple case may have a much shorter application process).

For example, if the deceased's estate held few assets and no inheritance tax is payable, the probate application process is very likely to be quick and simple. But if the case is more complex, for example there is a foreign will, disputes with the deceased's estate or inheritance tax to pay, the application will take much longer.

Here’s how you can avoid inheritance tax on property.

And don't forget - the application period might not even be the longest part of the probate application. You have to make time for the pre-application phase which includes obtaining documents like the death certificate, valuing the deceased's estate, filling out inheritance tax forms (IHT forms), as well as contacting the deceased's bank accounts, settling possible joint bank accounts, and paying any outstanding debts. All of this can take a lot of time to complete.

And once you've got grant of probate, dealing with the estate administration can also take a lot of time. The whole process can sometimes take over a year before everything is settled. But in most cases, it will take around six months for everything to be completed.

What happens after you've received grant of probate?

Once probate or letter of administration has been granted, the deceased's will, and any additions to the grant of probate will be kept by the probate registry and become a public record. You'll also get the death certificate returned to you if you sent one as part of the application.

After that, you'll need to settle the estate - and this part of the process can also vary depending on how complex the estate is. If it's just a case of distributing bank accounts, it won't take much time. But if the deceased left property, stocks or shares, it will be more complicated to settle.

You may also have to pay any outstanding debts. Though there's a common misconception that debts die with someone, that's not always the case. In fact, this only happens if they don't have an estate and their living spouse or civil partner isn't liable. Make sure you're paying any outstanding taxes or debts before distributing the remaining funds.

As always, it's often better to seek advice from a solicitor to ensure you're dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's.

Summary: Online tracking services are the key!

So, can you track a probate application? The answer is yes, you can - so long as you're the person applying. You can use an online probate service to apply for probate, then track a probate application step by step until probate is granted.

First, make sure you've got everything ready for your application, which you can find out more about here.

And as a named executor, if you're ready to apply for probate and need to value a property left by a close family member or close relative, take a look at our Online Valuation Tool, which gives you an instant valuation of any property.

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It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

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It’s always worth knowing the value of your home. Discover the price of your property with an instant valuation. GetAgent tracks the figures, so you don’t have to.

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