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Important deadlines in dealing with Probate

Published on 23 December 2019 | Modified on 23 December 2019

Written by Stacey Bennett

Although the administration of one’s estate is not the primary thing to think about when a loved one passes away, there are some deadlines to be aware of that you may want to consider depending on your situation.

  1. Apply to transfer a spouse’s unused nil rate band

Particularly where a deceased has a large estate which exceeds their own nil rate band of £325,000, it may be necessary to apply to transfer the nil rate band of a deceased spouse to the extent that it is unused. Details must be collated of the first deceased’s spouse estate to include date of death, date and place of marriage, whether a Grant of Representation was taken out and if so confirm details of this and various other details. So long as the whole of the first deceased’s nil rate band is unused, and the transfer would allow the second deceased’s estate to fall below the Inheritance tax threshold, the simpler Inheritance form IHT205 can be completed together with the IHT217 form.

The IHT217 must be completed no later than 24 months after the end of the month in which the deceased died. Collating the details required may be tricky and if you are unsure, one of our expert probate solicitors would be happy to help.

  1. Complete a Deed of Variation

A Deed of Variation is not always required and a specific review of each individual matter will decide whether it is appropriate. A Deed may be necessary where a beneficiary does not wish to receive their inheritance as this could potentially leave their own estate liable to pay Inheritance Tax. This can be avoided by effectively amending the deceased’s Will so that the gift passes directly to another named beneficiary. This gift would not then be taken into account of the original intended beneficiary’s estate. This deed must however be completed within 2 years of date of death and executed correctly. Our experienced probate solicitors can advise you whether a Deed of Variation is the best option for you and will ensure this is completed well within the time limits.

  1. Payment of Inheritance Tax

If you think an estate is liable for Inheritance Tax, i.e because the value is higher than the nil rate band threshold, you only have a limited time to complete the relevant tax forms, submit these to the Inland Revenue and pay any tax due. Inheritance Tax must be paid within 6 months from the end of the month in which the deceased died. If this is done incorrectly, not submitted in full or submitted late, there is a possibility that penalties will be imposed and this will be the responsibility of the Executor.


Whilst the primary concern after losing a loved one may be to grieve and arrange the funeral, the above are just some of the important deadlines that you should consider if you think it is likely they will apply. The administration of an estate can soon become complicated after what may seem like a straight forward exercise. If you have any doubt or would like any assistance, please contact one of our expert probate solicitors today.

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