Progress on UK probate delays

Emily Deane TEP

Updated 24 March 2020: HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has launched new standard application forms for professional practitioners.

Three of the grant of representation forms have been redesigned for the professional sector. These are the PA1A (applying for grant of letters of administration), PA1P (applying for a grant of probate) and PA8A (applying for a caveat). These forms need to be completed in place of the Statement of Truth, and can be accessed from Probate forms and guidance.

If you want to apply for a grant of representation or caveat online, please visit HMCTS online services for legal professionals.

HMCTS is encouraging everyone to apply online so that HMCTS can continue to work remotely on the applications.

Updated 10 March 2020: It is now possible to make an online application for a Welsh grant via: A oes gennych chi dystysgrif marwolaeth?

Updated 14 February 2020: HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is now issuing new grants within two weeks of all professional online or paper applications for England and Wales.

HMCTS has requested feedback from professionals who have used the new online system. It has registered approximately 1,000 online applications since the launch and is urging other professionals to sign up.

STEP has relayed the message to HMCTS that some emails and calls are still going unanswered.

Updated 2 December 2019: STEP met HMCTS this week, together with The Law Society, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

HMTCS provided the following update on the Probate Service:

Timeframe

For personal applications HMCTS is now issuing grants in less than four weeks.

For professional applications grants are being issued within two to three weeks.

HMCTS issued 11,390 grants in the first two weeks of November.

HMCTS has identified that 16 per cent of stops are caused by a pending IHT421 and 11 per cent of stops are due to a missing death certificate.

The new online system will help to identify the reasons for other stops in due course.

Online system

HMCTS is promoting the use of its online system and is keen to see increased professional uptake. It is also looking at introducing a new paper form in the new year. Once introduced there will a transitional period to enable firms to implement.

The online service for Welsh applications will be implemented in the new year.

Customer Service

From 2 December 2019 the CTSC customer service centre will be open from 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and from 8am-2pm on Saturday.

If you continue to have issues with a probate application please contact HMCTS by email: probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk

Alternatively, contact STEP’s Policy Team and we will direct you to someone at CTSC who can assist.

STEP will continue to meet with HMCTS regularly next year to discuss future changes to the service and feedback from the industry.

Emily Deane TEP, STEP Technical Counsel

9 thoughts on “Progress on UK probate delays

  1. Unfortunately, once again this is inaccurate. I have recently sent the list of our outstanding grants with the Registries – some go back to December last year and certainly most are well over the 4 weeks they are claiming. We did our first online application 8 weeks ago and have been told we should have it by week 9! We received a grant back from the Registry last week that they had dated February 2019! They haven’t said how they can explain this to our customer why they lost out on the sale of their property because of this? I have written to and tweeted Susan Acland-Hood (CEO of HMCTS) advising her of our continued issues but continue to be completely ignored. How excellent is that?

  2. Probate application submitted in early August 2019 for my late mother’s estate. Further affidavit submitted 2 Oct but still waiting and told they action everything in date order. House sale pending and being charged nearly £10 per day on equity release loan against my late mothers property because we can’t clear it until the house is sold and can’t complete the sale as we are still waiting for the grant to be issued. I don’t believe they are turning things around in 4 weeks, it’s now 8 weeks since we submitted the affidavit and nearly 5 months since first submitting the probate application. Maybe they would be quicker if I send them a bill for the interest on the equity release loan that we are only paying due to their failures.

    • I am sorry to hear that your application has taken so long to process. I understand that HMCTS are turning around recent applications in less than 4 weeks but not necessarily older ones that have encountered stops. They are encouraging people to contact them directly at probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk with the deceased’s name, date of birth and case reference number and they should be able to provide an update. If you continue to have problems please contact step@policy.org and I will put you in touch with someone directly.

  3. Applied 19 May 2019 for my mum’s estate with a cheque to cover costs. Cheque cashed within 4 days. Took them further 3 months to tell me that I had used wrong form but it was only one available from website. Sent back new one. Still waiting despite sending letters asking what’s going on which have not been replied to. Now disgusted by them and I am being pressured by beneficiaries who want their share. Suspect it is lost somewhere in one of their filing cabinets. This is just for info for you.

      • Just as follow up info, had a letter from them nearly 4 weeks ago to say that an afadavit was being done but still heard nothing since. Yes there was a will problem insofar as it was only a copy. So still waiting and I am so disgusted that it is taking this long with no explanation as to actually why. I have written complaint’s that have not been acknowledged or dealt with. I have obtained the ombudsman’s details but cannot follow this through till their “processes” are completed which effectively negates the ability to get anywhere with them. In effect they have tied my hands with red tape. Still I suppose these things are sent to try us. Bye for now.

  4. If an estate has suffered demonstrable, direct and quantifiable financial loss as a result of the HMCTS delays, is it possible to claim compensation from them for that loss?

  5. The assurances of HMCTS are not credible. I made a personal application in August.2019
    After 3 months the Probate Office said that there was a problem which required an Affidavit of Due Execution delivered more than 2 months ago.
    Since then the Probate Office has lost the Will then found it but still not issued Probate nor provided any explanation for the delay.
    Emails go unanswered. Its impossible to get through on the telephone. the system is hopeless.
    We have a sale which cannot progress and having to spend money to keep the estate assets insured and maintained.
    Kafkaesque is a cliche but its all to accurate to describe the Probate service.

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