Probate delays and online probate service: An update

In our Spring e-bulletin Kerry Rogers reported on the significant delays being experienced in the issue of grants of probate. It was hoped that these delays would be short-lived and although there are still delays there does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

Michael Culver, Chairman of Solicitors for the Elderly recently attended a meeting with HMCTS and has reported the following main points:

  • Most Probate offices are currently dealing with applications received at the end of July and some offices are ahead of this.
  • By next month HMCTS hope to be back to issuing grants to professional applicants within 10 working days.
  • Additional staff have been brought in and staff are working overtime to clear the backlog.
  • Paper applications are not always dealt with by the office to which they are sent. This means that there can be problems matching up paperwork if an IHT421 is sent to the probate registry after submitting the grant application. HMCTS ask that the application for the grant is not submitted without the IHT421.

HMCTS have also announced that from 1st October, in most cases, legal professionals can now use the online probate service to apply for a grant of probate or letters of administration. However, original wills and inheritance tax documents will still need to be sent by post.

Although using the online system will not speed up the issue of the grant, it does allow users to track their application through the system. Given the current difficulties in contacting the probate registries by telephone this is a significant advantage.

The law and practice referred to in this article has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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