What's going on at Oliver & Co

Current Delays with the Probate Registry Continue to Cause Frustration

Posted on October 4th 2023

Just how long are Grants of Probate taking?

Covid and the dreaded ‘lockdowns’ may seem like a distant memory for some, but unfortunately the Probate Courts are still facing the challenges which Covid kindly presented them, and they do not show promise of alleviation.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is a document which is granted by the Probate Court to the named executors in a will when someone passes away. The Grant permits the executors to deal with the assets of the person who has passed away. A Grant of Probate is obtained when there is a will, and Letters of Administration are sought when there is no will.

The on-going and unforeseen effect of COVID-19

During 2019, a government led court-overhaul prompted the closure of many regional probate court offices; the idea being the collation and consolidation of processing to one new Central Probate Registry. Whilst this new approach was underway, but still in its infancy – underfunded and understaffed – March 2020 presented a colossal and unforeseen complication with Covid-19.

Many of the new staff employed during the reconstitution of the new Probate Registry, were fresh to the scene and not adequately trained to deal with the mass-influx of grants being applied for, in response to the rapidly climbing death rate at the time. Despite their desperate attempts to keep pace with the growing demand for their services, the UK Probate Registry fell deeper and deeper into an ever-growing backlog and quite soon the days of a 2-3 week wait for probate to be granted became a long and distant memory.

A wait time of up to 20 weeks is not unusual

Figures published by HMCTS in May of 2023 show that, for online applications, the average wait time from submission of application to grant-approval is set at 10.8 weeks, however a wait time of up to 20 weeks or more is not unusual. For instances where a paper application is necessary, the average wait time from submission to grant-approval is 16.4 weeks.

The frustration here is multi-faceted. As probate practitioners, we empathise with our clients; grieving families who are held in stagnant limbo for weeks and months on end for ‘permission’ to move forward to find closure from the probate process, which we appreciate can be highly stressful and emotionally taxing. Unfortunately, as professionals, there is nothing we can do to expedite the approval of a Grant of Probate and, despite the pressure that the profession has placed on the courts to review this, there doesn’t seem to be any positive movement as of yet.

Providing ways to alleviate the frustration

We understand that the probate process is equally, if not more, frustrating for our clients than us. As such, in every area that we can control, we are dedicated to providing our clients a smooth and swift service, ensuring the application’s accuracy and using our experience to anticipate any questions that may be raised by the Probate Registry to avoid the potential for further delays.

If you are struggling with the probate process currently or require some advice on the process of administering an estate, do not hesitate to contact one of our team today on 01244 987 419.

Call and speak to a member of our team on 01244 312306