Letter tiles spelling 'allow for delay' sum up the current position with probate applications
Despite reassurances last year, probate delays are continuing in 2022. The promised improvements are failing to speed up the service for bereaved families. 
Many are experiencing distress and financial losses due to delays which amount to many months in some cases. 
For one family, for example, a man’s niece and nephew waited for more than ten months for letters of administration. Their uncle’s equity loan was due to be paid within 12 months of his death. They had to continue paying £1,000 per month in interest and were running out of time while they waited for their application to be processed. 
Promises to improve 
In April 2021 HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) said it was taking steps to improve the online MyHMCTS service and to reduce delays. 
The measures included additional staff to resolve stopped cases, improved advice about the process to submit inheritance tax documents before applying for probate, and improvements to the online service. 
Trust Corporations were also allowed to apply for a grant online for the first time and probate practitioners could amend the application before submission and use digital signatures on behalf of their clients. 
Increased fees 
Last month the government introduced a single flat-rate probate fee of £273 for estates over £5,000 to help fund improvements to the service. However, there are calls for more wide-ranging changes. 
Continuing problems 
In 2020, people were typically waiting 12 to 14 weeks to receive their grant and probate professionals reported continuing problems with the online service, difficulties communicating with HMCTS, and errors when grants were issued that have, for example, affected property sales. 
HMCTS says you should receive a grant within eight weeks if all the requirements have been met. However, if your application is incomplete, or you haven’t paid in the right way and included details of the payment with the application, you can expect delays. 
Things to check 
For your grant to be issued your probate application must be received by the probate registry, which issues the legal documents. 
If the estate is complex or there are a high number of applications this could lead to delays of three to 12 months. 
When you have made your application, you should wait at least eight weeks before contacting HMCTS because it will take at least this long to be received by the registry. 
When you enquire the first thing to ask is whether your application is in the hands of HMCTS. If it is then you can confirm the following: 
• when was it sent? 
• has the fee been paid? 
• have any questions been raised by HMCTS or HMRC and, if yes, have they been fully answered? 
• has a clearance certificate been issued by HMRC and the number communicated to the registry? 
If the answer to all these questions is ‘yes’ then your application should be progressing. 
If you would like any advice about the probate process, please get in touch. 
Tagged as: Executors, Probate, Wills
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