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21st December 2020

The Probate Registry’s backlog: heads in the sand?

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A substantial backlog has arisen at the Probate Registry, meaning that it is now taking as long as twelve weeks for probate to be granted. Backlogs began in 2017 due to a proposed hike in probate fees. The rise in fees was mooted again in 2019, prompting a further flurry of applications that added to the backlog.

Ministry of Justice statistics show that in any given week, the Probate Registry is unlikely to have issued more grants than it has received applications. Complex applications, such as entering a caveat when there is an issue with a Will, are suffering even longer delays.

The Probate Registry has been undergoing a process of centralisation and digitisation. Unfortunately, both of these appear to have worsened rather than improved the service, with errors creeping in and the online system performing poorly. The online system is particularly problematic as the original Will still has to be sent in, meaning that it cannot yet be considered a truly digital process. On top of all of this, the Coronavirus pandemic significantly disrupted the Probate Registry’s work and its staff remain largely at home.

Whilst we all hope the issues will be addressed, there is a feeling amongst professionals that the Probate Registry is not fully admitting and facing-up to the problems. It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that applications do not contain any errors and that any complexity is correctly explained. If an application gives rise to queries, it can fall into limbo and remain unresolved for months. For advice on getting your probate application right, please contact one of our team using the details below.

Kelly Wardell on 01223 532722 or click here to email Kelly.

Hauke Harrack on 01604 463131 or click here to email Hauke.