Probate Application Delays Caused By Technology Problems
Posted Nov 06, 2019.
Solicitors specialising in wills and probate have been critical of recent software problems which have resulted in delays when issuing grants of probate. A grant of probate is commonly granted to confirm the legal authority of an executor to administer the estate of someone who has passed away.
Such authority is required in all cases apart from where ownership of assets has automatically been transferred upon death (if assets were jointly owned, for example) or where the deceased individual’s estate is valued at less than £10,000. A grant of probate will then allow the executor to tidy up and finalise the individual affairs, including distribution of their assets.
HMCTS Probate Process
In October 2019 the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), who are responsible for the probate process, stated that it was ‘optimistic that the probate service will very shortly return to normal levels’ and that the software problems had been solved. They added that new probate applications are now being processed within 3 days of receipt, with the majority of applications being processed within the 28 day target subject to the correct paperwork being provided. HMCTS are confident that even with them handling over 6,500 applications per week, service levels will now remain high. In responding to the HMCTS update, a spokesperson for the Law Society 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”
However, many solicitors remain doubtful about the HMCTS claims, with many claiming that they had not seen any improvement in the process application timescales. Many have been describing delays in excess of 3 months, exacerbated by a sudden rush of applications as executors tried to beat the proposed higher probate fees – changes which have now been scrapped anyway.
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