Knowledge Centre

End in sight for probate delays

Written By - Liam Bolton - October 22,2019

Probate delays are ‘still not where they need to be’ but the situation is improving, the Law Society has commented after meeting with HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

HMCTS told the Law Society this month that it is sending out nearly 7,000 grants of probate a week and that issue levels should remain above 6,000 a week.

New applications are processed within three days of being received, HMCTS said, and the bulk of applications are processed within 28 days if inheritance tax forms are provided.

According to the Law Society, HMCTS is ‘optimistic that the probate service will very shortly return to normal levels – applications being granted within 10 working days for solicitors’. HMCTS said the service should be back to normal in the next few weeks. 

Since the spring, solicitors have reported waiting over three months for grants of probate. Delays were sparked by a software glitch which coincided with a spike in applications, as executors rushed to beat the probate fee hike which was due to be implemented in April.

Last week the Ministry of Justice announced that the increase, which would have required bereaved families to pay up to £6,000 for grants of probate, has been scrapped.

Solicitors and personal applicants will also be able to contact the Birmingham courts and tribunals service centre for probate updates from the start of November. The Birmingham centre will eventually deal with all probate services, with some administrative work taking place at a second site. 

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, said: 'Over the past several months, the delays to probate grant applications have caused undue stress for grieving families.

'We are relieved to hear these delays are starting to ease and will continue to work with HM Courts and Tribunals to reduce the backlogs and create a probate service fit for the 21stcentury.'