Probate Delays Explained

Current delays for receiving Grants at the Probate Registry have caused much concern amongst applicants. According to the Probate Registry, they are dealing with applications as quickly as possible in strict datal order, according to receipt, and are advising executors not to accept offers on properties as they will not process urgent applications any quicker.

Their normal turnaround time is 10 working days (and they’ve been known to issue Grants within 24 hours for urgent cases). But the current advice for clients is to expect a timescale of 8-11 weeks — longer if the original application contained errors, which will push it further down the queue.

The delays are due in part to the introduction of a new computer system to implement online applications. The intention was to streamline the overall process and handle an increase in applications. Apparently original Wills, previously checked by the Probate Registry, are now checked electronically by an outsourced private firm, resulting in a greater risk of fraudulent Wills being admitted.

The online process is only suitable for straightforward applications, and the aim is to make it simpler and more convenient for the bereaved to apply. Generally speaking, anything that makes this process easier is a positive thing. However problems with a Will, or complexities of an estate, are not always obvious to a lay person, and overlooked mistakes can escalate, leaving executors personally liable. 

Also, the application itself makes up only a small part of the whole estate administration process, which means executors need guidance and support throughout. Often clients are looking to instruct solicitors because they simply don’t have the time, or don’t live locally, or because they are aware of underlying tensions in the family and simply want the comfort of knowing things are being handled properly.

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