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Grant of Probate delays continue due to rising number of applications

Posted by Kings Court Trust | Apr 26, 2022 3:44:57 PM

Bereaved families administering a loved one’s estate continue to face delays with Grant of Probate applications in England and Wales. A recent STEP article reports that 23,572 applications were received by HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in January 2022. This is an increase of 5,297 (29%) on the 18,275 applications received in December 2021 for probate. The article also states that 2021 was the second-highest year in the past ten years for Grants issued.

The Law Society recently summarised an update from HMCTS and other members of the probate service user group. The summary reports that in January 2022:

  • Digital applications took 15.8 weeks from submission to Grant of Probate being issued when a stop occurred, compared to 4.2 weeks without stops.
  • Paper applications took 21.5 weeks from submission to Grant of Probate being issued when a stop occurred, compared to 9.8 weeks without stops.

Kings Court Trust’s Legal Services Director, Charlotte Toogood, commented:

It is disappointing that there is still an extended wait time for Grants to be issued. Obtaining the Grant of Probate is a key milestone in the estate administration process and the delays are causing extra stress for our families. We are in regular contact with HMCTS to ensure they are aware of the issues that the delays are causing.

The March 2022 probate service user group update also states that HMCTS is continuously recruiting new members of staff to work on probate cases and will continue to do so to help with the ongoing flow of applications. In addition, HMCTS has set out to improve its service levels experienced by users, and as a result, has seen a slight improvement in average call wait times. 

Whilst extended wait times for Grants to be extracted should be anticipated by Personal Representatives, beneficiaries, and legal professionals administering an estate, HMCTS claims that the backlog is not increasing and that receipts are being managed efficiently. However, various points should be considered when submitting a Grant application to reduce the likelihood of a stopped application that may prolong the process further.

 

What are the most common causes for stopped Grant applications?

There are some common causes for stopped applications. A recent blog by MyHMCTS, the online case management tool managed by HMCTS for legal professionals, states that stopped applications can double the time taken to issue a Grant. According to the blog, stopped applications are commonly caused by:

  • Missing documents. Delays to Grant applications are caused when the required supporting documents are not submitted at the same time as the application.
  • Missing Inheritance Tax (IHT) information. Inheritance Tax forms (if applicable) must be completed before HMCTS can begin to process applications. These forms must be submitted to HMRC 20 days before the probate application to MyHMCTS, or delays will occur.
  • Missing Executors. Applications must include all the Executors of an estate and it is a requirement to disclose why an Executor is not applying. For example, disclosing that an Executor has predeceased.
  • Queries about the Will’s condition. To mitigate the risk of fraud, staple holes, rips, missing pages, or stains may be queried.

 

What happens when a Grant application has been stopped?

If a Grant application comes to a halt for any of the reasons stated above, the application is submitted to an alternative queue until the required information or documentation has been submitted. If a legal practitioner is administering the estate, they will be alerted of the stopped application and will be informed of the requirement before it can be further processed.

 

What can be done to reduce the risk of a stopped Grant application?

There are various steps to consider that may help reduce the risk of a stopped Grant application. HMCTS suggests checking the following before applying for probate:

  • If Inheritance Tax is payable, the IHT form has been submitted to HMRC 20 working days before applying for probate. As of 1 January 2022, the reporting requirements for excepted estates (estates where no IHT is payable) have changed. Learn more about the Inheritance Tax reporting requirements for excepted estates here.
  • All details on the application have been proofread, and the names on the application match those listed on the Will.
  • Any Executors mentioned in the Will are cleared off if they are not signing the application.
  • The statement of truth and forms have been signed where required.
  • The correct fee has been paid.
Alternatively, if you are yet to apply for probate, a professional estate administration specialist, such as Kings Court Trust, can take on this burden for you. When instructing us, you can request that we complete the Grant of Probate application only or alternatively, administer the full estate. Learn more about our estate solutions available for Executors or Administrators here.

Kings Court Trust is an estate administration provider that offers award-winning solutions to support every family. Whether you need a hand obtaining the Grant of Probate, completing the complicated tax and legal work, or anything in between, you’re in safe hands with our team of specialists. For more information about who we are and how we work, download our free guide below.

Click here to download our free 'We take care of estate administration' guide.


If you have any questions about the estate administration process, including applying for the Grant of Probate, call our Client Services Team on 0300 303 9000 or fill in the form below.

 

Topics: Estate Administration, Grant of Probate, Probate Delays