Wills and Probate Update – Probate delays

Elderly Couple in Autumn

Probate delays

Clients applying for ‘probate’ are having to wait several weeks longer than is usual because of considerable delays with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Probate Registries, writes Jonathan Edwards, Senior Chartered Legal Executive in our Private Client Department.

In some estates, it is necessary for the Executors or Personal Representatives to obtain a Grant of Representation to deal with assets such as houses, bank accounts and savings and investments. Straightforward applications usually take around two weeks to be processed by a Probate Registry.  However, the introduction of a new computer system by the Ministry of Justice, impending centralisation of services and other factors are now causing massive delays in receiving the issued Grant.  For instance, at the time of writing an application for Probate we submitted in mid-May has still not been completed – even though this is a straight-forward matter with no Inheritance Tax (IHT) to pay!

To compound the problem, in estates where IHT is payable (or even where no IHT is payable but a full IHT Account is required) HM Revenue and Customs need to issue a formal receipt before the Probate Registry can issue the Grant of Representation. Since there are similar delays with HMRC the process is even more protracted in these cases.

The situation has not been assisted by the Government’s proposed rise in probate fees which, although postponed from April to a date yet to be announced, led to a surge in applications prior to April which the Probate Registries have been completely ill-prepared for at this time.

We wish to reassure all our clients that we shall endeavour to progress matters as swiftly as possible despite these obstacles

How can we help?

If specific advice on Wills, estate planning or estate administration is required then please contact Jonathan Edwards on 01743 237698, or our office in Shrewsbury 01743 248545, Harlescott 01743 467641 or Whitchurch 01948 663361.