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Insights

Probate delays cause despair to bereaved families

Posted on 04th May 2021 in Probate & Wills

Posted by

Rachael Morley

Partner & Solicitor
Probate delays cause despair to bereaved families

It was hugely saddening to see in a recent Guardian article about the impact of Probate Registry delays on grieving families.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service, which deals with Probate applications, has lately been revamped to move all Probate operations to a central location. Whereas there used to be various Probate Registry centres around the country, the new central hub was intended to streamline the process. Added to the delays caused by Covid and the tricky new online Probate system, applications have been taking countless months to process and this article follows the dozens of readers who have been waiting for up to nine months.

A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is often required to show which Executors or Administrators have the authority to act and deal with estate assets. Where the person who has passed away owned a property in their sole name, it is needed for any sale to complete. Any Probate Registry delays can therefore impact not only the grieving relatives, but also any buyers and their families, leaving them on tenterhooks for months.

And, if the delays weren’t bad enough by themselves, the readers have reported that another frustrating result of the new hub and online submission is that they are spending hours on hold in the hope of someone picking up the phone to tell them how things are going. A hope that, with the impact of Covid and the Probate Registry’s current backlog, can often be unsatisfied.

So, is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Apparently, with the hiring of extra staff, paper applications are taking around 5-6 weeks and online applications 1 week, according to the Ministry of Justice.

But, anecdotally? Our specialist teams are still finding that applications are taking at least 8 weeks to turnaround, so, sadly, we are not out of the woods yet.

 

How can Tozers help?

For any further help or advice on anything covered in this insight, please contact our dedicated Wills and Probate team who will be happy to help.

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