HMCTS pledge on delay-hit probate system
By Jemma Slingo
The probate system should be back to normal in a matter of weeks, HM Courts & Tribunals Service has claimed – but solicitors still complain of long delays.
HMCTS told the Law Society at a meeting this month that it is sending out nearly 7,000 grants of probate a week and that issue levels should remain high.
New applications are processed within three days of being received, HMCTS said, and the bulk of applications are processed within 28 days if inheritance tax forms are provided.
As a result, it is ‘optimistic that the probate service will very shortly return to normal levels’, it told the Law Society.
Solicitors remain sceptical, however. Samantha Hamilton, of London and Essex-based firm Mullis & Peake, told
the Gazette: ‘We still have delays on older applications, as the probate registry has admitted that new applications are being dealt with more quickly.
‘We still await grants where the application was made in the summer. We have also seen an increase in errors that requires the return of the grant so it can be corrected and reissued.’
Jordan Dowling, from Pembrokeshire-based firm Price & Kelway, said she had seen no improvement in the situation and still had many grants of probate outstanding.
Since the spring, solicitors have reported waiting times of over three months after a software glitch coincided with a spike in applications, as executors rushed to beat proposed higher fees.
The Ministry of Justice announced this month that the planned reform has been scrapped.
Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘Over the past several months, the delays to probate grant applications have caused undue stress for grieving families.
‘We are relieved to hear these delays are starting to ease and will continue to work with HMCTS to reduce the backlogs and create a probate service fit for the 21st century.’
(Courtesy: Law Society Gazette)