HMCTS issue apology over probate delays

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) hit its probate target in just nine per cent of all cases in 2019, it has been revealed.

The figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, show that less than one in 10 grants of probate were issued within the Ministry’s 10 working days target.

According to the report, the average time for grants to be issued hit eight weeks in December 2019, down from 10 the previous quarter.

The delays come after HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) launched a new online probate system in January 2019.

The department said delays had been compounded by an increase in probate applications since new fees were announced, alongside IT problems linked to the new online probate application process. The new fees have since been scrapped.

HMCTS added that staff also required additional training to familiarise themselves with the new system, exacerbating delays.

However, the MoJ said probate applications were now being processed within 10 working days as of 27 January 2020.

To help speed up the overall process, the Government office has issued new guidance to probate applicants. This includes ensuring you provide the Inheritance Tax (IHT) form when submitting an application, double-checking names on the application form are the same as those printed on the Will, signing and dating the relevant forms, and sending the correct probate fee.

The current application fee is £215 if the value of the estate is £5,000 or over. There’s no fee if the estate is under £5,000.

Jamie Romer, Solicitor in the Private Client department at OGR Stock Denton, said: “It is hoped that if the MOJ ever wishes to increase probate fees again, it will make the relevant date the date of death rather than the date of application, to avoid a similar rush crashing the system and causing delay and financial hardship to countless families going through the probate process.”

For help and advice applying for a grant of probate, get in touch with our expert team today.

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