A new online service to deal with Grants of Probate has been causing delays.
When someone dies, it is usually necessary for the executors named in their Will to obtain a Grant of Probate, so that they can administer the estate.
This can be a complicated process often taking many weeks or months to compile all the required information and then a formal application to the Probate Registry to get the grant. The application process itself used to take a few weeks.
However, since November 2020, most Grant of Probate applications must be made using a new online service operated by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS).
The aim is to make it quicker and easier to issue Grants of Probates. Unfortunately, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic and consequent staffing issues and various other complications, the process is currently taking up to four months and in some cases even longer.
Lucy Watson, who heads the Wills and Probate team at Phillips said: “We are very worried that clients who have lost a loved one, are suffering additional distress because of the delay in being able to administer their estate and deal with their financial affairs. Indeed, we have had cases where the delay has been serious, affecting the ability to progress a property sale.”
The problem is compounded if Inheritance Tax has to be paid before the grant can be issued. Sadly, at the moment there are delays within HMRC as well. HMCTS cannot proceed until HMRC email to confirm payment of Inheritance Tax and so a delay by HMRC adds even more time to applications.
“The new system is still very much in its infancy and there are numerous highly frustrating glitches that will need to be ironed out,” said Lucy.
“While these delays are beyond our control, we hope that once the new procedures become more familiar and the technical issues are resolved, the process will improve.”
“Until then, we in the Wills and Probate team at Phillips will of course continue to do our utmost to progress matters as quickly and as smoothly as possible for our clients.”
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This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.