A grant of Confirmation in Scotland (similar to Probate in England) is a legal document issued by sheriff courts in favour of executors. This enables the executors of an estate to deal with the deceased’s assets, for example to release funds held in bank accounts or sell the deceased’s house. It is often, but not always, required when dealing with a deceased’s person’s estate, depending on the circumstances involved.
How long does it take to obtain Confirmation?
The length of time will vary depending on how quickly the executry process begins and the complexity of the estate. If the estate is not unduly complicated, Confirmation can be obtained around 3-6 months after the date of death. There is some work involved in preparing the application for Confirmation before it is submitted to court. The court itself can then take some time to process and approve the application. In addition, some estates require a full inheritance tax return to be submitted to HMRC. In these circumstances, the application for Confirmation cannot be submitted to the court until HMRC has received the inheritance tax return and issued an authorisation code.
What do I need to do before obtaining Confirmation?
If you are the executor of the estate, you will have to obtain the information for the application for Confirmation. A solicitor can assist you with this. Some or all of the following steps may be required, before the application for Confirmation can be submitted:
- Registration of the death
- Reviewing the deceased’s financial papers
- Contacting banks and other financial institutions to obtain precise values for the assets at the date of death
- Obtaining professional valuations of property and/or personal effects
- Obtaining a Bond of Caution (a type of insurance policy required if the deceased did not leave a will)
- Preparation of the application forms for Confirmation, including producing an inventory of all of the assets that the deceased held as at the date of death
- Instructing searches designed to ascertain if the deceased had any further assets or debts at the time of their death
- Submitting the inheritance tax return to HMRC
How long does the court take to process applications?
Once an application is submitted, the time the court will take to process and approve the application will depend on how busy the court is and which court the application is submitted to. Timescales can vary wildly from a few days to a few months. Individual courts are usually able and willing to provide an estimated timescale if this is requested.
Is there anything I can do to speed the process up?
If you are keen to progress matters on the estate, starting the process as soon as you feel able to after the deceased’s passing will get the ‘ball rolling’ in terms of the work that is required. If you wish to instruct a solicitor to assist you with the administration of the estate, meeting with them promptly and providing all of the information they will require will enable them to progress matters. Unfortunately, however, there are no miracle solutions. Executors should be aware that the process of obtaining Confirmation is inevitably likely to take some months to complete.