George Hay Chartered Accountants were one of the first accountancy firms in the country to obtain a licence to carry out non-contentious probate work. In our monthly column, we give you an insight into the process and provide an update on what is happening in the world of probate and estates.

One of our biggest frustrations is that so much of our time is spent waiting for responses from third parties, to enable us to progress a case.

On many estates, we are asked to establish the amount and identity of the assets. This involves writing to various institutions – for example, the bank/s holding the deceased’s accounts. In fairness, most are good at responding but there is often a straggler that can hold this part of the process up.

The larger estates have to file form IHT400, which is sent to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). HMRC then process the form and request payment of Inheritance Tax (IHT) if due; once the IHT has been paid, HMRC can then issue a clearance letter to the Probate Registry.

This does not mean, however, that the IHT400 form is approved, just that it has been completed in good order and the IHT due has been settled.

For smaller estates, a form IHT205 is sent directly to the Probate Registry. This is ‘unknown’ territory – we currently seem to be getting a response from them in about six weeks, although just last week we received a response after 12 weeks of waiting. From memory, I think the longest we have waited for a response is 26 weeks!

These delays cause frustration to all, because assets cannot be realised and hence distributions cannot be made.

If a property is involved, it can be marketed but not actually sold prior to probate being granted.

We are tied to a response and are unable to do much to change this fact. What we can do, however, is ensure that we are ready for the next stage so we can progress the case as soon as we are able to.

We pride ourselves on our proactivity; the day after we receive notification of probate, letters are sent to all institutions to enable progress to be made.

To discuss our Probate & Estates services in more detail, contact Huntingdon-based Barry Jefferd or Jenna Boddington on 01480 426500, or Letchworth-based Martin Williams on 01462 708810.

You can also email us at

Authored by Director of GH Probate Ltd., Barry Jefferd.

Our Probate service is provided through GH Probate Limited. GH Probate is the trading style of GH Probate Limited. Registered in England and Wales number 9630102. Registered Office: St George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE29 3GH.

Authorised to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales

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