Probate Delays – Updated Regularly September 2019

Probate Delays Probate delays in England and Wales and what to do. Long delays in the Probate Registry are slowly reducing, though we are still hearing from people who reckon they have waited six months! The reasons behind the delay in probating Wills are that the Probate Registries have been hit by a perfect storm – cutbacks, new technology, many offices closed and then to top it all the threat of a MASSIVE rise in fees provoking applicants to get applications in months earlier than would normally be the case. At least any increase in Probate Fees has been delayed by the proroguing of Parliament!

We can’t help directly, being a private company, but if you read on you will find out what you can do if the probate registry has not issued your Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration within 8 weeks of it being submitted and complete. The clock stops if the Registry asks any further questions until those questions are fully answered.

At 15th October, The Registry says delays are down to just 4 weeks, provided everything is correct. Now the proposed fee increases have been dropped, for the moment, things should get back to normal.

As of today, I can advise you that,

Please be aware that the majority of grants are printed and posted from bulk printing and that grants can take up to 48 hours to be posted after the above date and so please allow up to five days for delivery.

I would ask you not to commit to a completion deadline when putting properties on the market to sale without Probate being on place as we may not be able to accommodate these until the current backlog has cleared.

All cases are being processed in date order.  Please note all registries are working to the same time scales and if need be, work is being shared  to ensure that all Registries are issuing around the same date.

Please only contact us if the matter is extremely urgent or if you believe your application was received into the Registry five days before the above date.

We are unable to expedite an application for any other reason.

Please be assured the team are continuing to do all we can to process these cases as quickly as possible.

  • Copy Wills

Although no copy will is automatically provided with the grant, please ensure that you submit two plain, uncertified A4 sized copies of the will with your applications.

  • Calls from clients

We have recently had an increase in telephone calls received from executors/administrators to chase the progress of an application on the advice of their solicitor. While I understand the frustration of executors, can I ask that this is not suggested to clients as we are unable to discuss any aspect of the application with them UNLESS they have made a personal application. We can only discuss an application with the applicant which is often the professional.

Please be aware that the majority of grants are printed and posted from bulk printing and that grants can take up to 48 hours to be posted after the above date and so please allow up to five days for delivery.

All cases are being processed in date order.  Please note all registries are working to the same time scales and if need be, work is being shared to ensure that all Registries are issuing around the same date.

We are unable to expedite an application for any other reason.

Please be assured the team are continuing to do all we can to process these cases as quickly as possible.

  • Copy Wills

If your application was straightforward…

According to the Ministry, probate cases that have not been granted within 8 weeks need investigating PROVIDED that the Registry has raised no questions with the executor. This stops the clock and the 4 weeks does not restart until the question has been fully resolved.

If, and ONLY if your case meets these criteria, email probatefeedback@Justice.gov.uk about your probate delay.

Birmingham Probate Registry closed on 31st August. We understand paper applications have been sent to Newcastle.  Others will be dealt with by Courts & Tribunals Service Centres (CTSCs) one of which is apparently in Birmingham, but not in the old building.

Web: www.gov.uk/hmcts

This is the situation as we understand it:

STOP PRESS 1 Now we are told something quite different: a series of specialist centres “CTSC”  – Court & Tribunal Service Centres are being set up, the first being at Birmingham which will be dealing with online applications at a different address, 54 Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8PE – we have been unable to find any further contact details as yet (let us know if you do!)   We understand this one is operational. A further one will be opening at Stoke at Bennett House, Town Rd, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 2QB at any time, and others will follow including Loughborough late 2019 early 2020, but probably with different roles. What will happen to existing Registries is unknown but one suspects the idea is to sell off as much as possible then rent to provide a temporary cashflow advantage.

STOP PRESS 2 – We are told that the backlog has largely been dealt with and current applications should be dealt with in less than a month. This is what we previously reported: Registries OVERWHELMED with demand. You will NOT get an update on your application from them as we understand it, just a recorded message! They are just concentrating on getting cases through without interruption. All applicants can do is sit and wait. We are told by the public that Grants can take well over 3 months (4 not being uncommon) we are told) instead of 2 to 4 weeks to be issued.  Phone payments – one solicitor’s experience was over 5 hours to get through to the payment line!

ADVICE: Play it safe, triple check the forms, send by recorded or special delivery, pay by cheque or bank draft and check that is paid in by the Registry. Then sit and wait.  We suspect waiting times would come down if everyone was not chasing up their grants!