When obtaining a grant of probate with a last Will and testament there are number of factors which may cause potential delays. Writing a Will is just the first step and there are a number of obstacles to overcome before gifts are distributed.
The Executors may have received advice to place a notice in the London Gazette, giving creditors two months from the date of publication to notify the Executors of any claim they may have against the Estate. Executors who advertise in this way are protected from personal liability for the debts should a valid claim arise later.
If there is a possibility of creditors, it is often advised for Executors to make no payment until at least six months after the date of the grant. The reason for this is because there is a six month time limit under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975, which runs from the date of the grant of probate. A person is eligible to make an Inheritance Act claim, if a Will is written or not, if they were:
· the spouse/civil partner of the deceased;
· the former spouse/civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or entered into a further civil partnership;
· living with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death;
· the deceased’s child (which includes an adult child);
· treated as the deceased’s ‘child’ (for example, but not necessarily, adopted, fostered or a step-child); or
· being “maintained” by the deceased.
There is also the issue of the Executors year, in which they are not bound to distribute the estate before one year after the death. If a year is exceeded, then interest should be paid on the assets.
Ultimately, if the Executors are not complying with their obligations, you may be able to have them removed as Executors. This can be complicated and expensive and to be avoided if at all possible. If you do decide on this approach legal advice should be obtained.
If there is unreasonable delay however you should write to the Executors, pointing out their obligation to keep all beneficiaries updated on the progress of managing the Estate. You can also demand that the Executors provide details on how much you are due to receive. If they refuse a court order can be applied for.