June 12, 2019

Delays in obtaining Grants of Probates

We want to keep you updated.

Several delays have been experienced with probate registries in England & Wales, resulting in many estates being left in limbo pending issue of a Grant. Obtaining a Grant of Probate and administration of estates can sometimes be a lengthy and complicated process. Applications are usually processed in 10 working days but there have been substantial delays in obtaining Grants of Probate. Delays have been anywhere between 5 and 12 weeks.

There are several reasons why there have been significant delays within the probate registries:

  1. The volume of work caused by the proposed probate fees increase which has not yet taken place but was meant to in April 2019. Due to this, HMRC and probate registries experienced an influx of applications before April so estates could benefit from the older (& cheaper, in most cases) fees before the change.
  2. The probate registry to include an introduction of a new online application system for personal representatives, and the introductions of new styles of grants. The Law Gazette recently reported that there have been IT glitches and printing problems following the introduction of the new systems.
  3. An announcement was made of a re-structure of the probate registries. Next year, all the probate registries are due to be centralised into Birmingham with an administrative office in Stoke on Trent.
  4. Staff at HMRC have been re-deployed onto Brexit related projects.

The significant delays are having more than one kind of impact on administration of estates. The most prominent one is that it is jeopardising executors’ chances of selling properties. Due to the delays, potential buyers are walking away from properties because of probates being stuck in the pipeline for over 8 weeks. This is causing great concern over why the courts had not anticipated such delays and also put in place reasonable measures to alleviate the same.

Winchester Probate Registry have issued a statement explaining that they are currently dealing with applications back from 26 March 2019 and in date order. In order to facilitate a quicker turnover of applications, telephone lines at ALL probate Registries will be unavailable from 2pm onwards on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. This has been implemented as of immediate effect.

Ekta Porter

Solicitor

Head of Legal

Fortis Law Shortlisted
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