Everything you can do to stop blocks in the probate service

Since the pandemic, the probate service has been experiencing significant delays. Here are five ways HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) says you can help reduce stops in the process and potentially speed up the issuing of a grant of probate.

Probate Delays Stops

Why have there been delays in the probate service?

Over the last 18 months, HMCTS has been changing the way the probate service operates to ensure it better meets the needs of its users. Changes have included everything from a new style of grant of probate certificate to allowing all legal professionals to access an online probate service 24 hours a day.

However, since the end of March this year, users have been experiencing lengthy delays in receiving a grant of probate. According to HMCTS, this is due to a migration to a new back-office system which resulted in the loss of several days’ worth of working time.

The migration, as well as staff learning the new system, coincided with volumes of grants of probate applications soaring in the Spring following the announcement of the now-scraped probate fee increases. According to HMCTS, there was a 50 per cent increase in requests in March and April, and by the end of May there were 40,000 more applications in the system than usual.

How long are the waiting times for a grant of probate?

Consequently, there have been significant delays in issuing a grant of probate. For most applications, HMCTS says you’ll usually get the grant of probate or letters of administration within 16 weeks of submitting your application. It can take longer if you need to provide additional information.

HMCTS says applications have had to be stopped because further information or assurances are required before grants of probate can be issued. Sometimes documents are missing, there are procedural defects (for example, names on the will don’t match precisely with the application), or further confirmation is needed that the correct documents have been submitted.

How can I get a grant of probate quicker?

HMCTS says that it has now stabilised the system and that colleagues have worked tirelessly to help deal with the backlog. The service has also increased staffing by 20% to help reduce waiting times.

While HMCTS accepts the delays aren’t acceptable and there is more it can do to improve the process, it also suggests ways in which applicants can help reduce stops. These include:

  • making sure the IHT form is provided when submitting an application
  • double-checking all the names on the application form are the same as on the will and making sure any executors not applying have been accounted for
  • signing the statement of truth
  • signing the forms
  • sending the correct fee

If you are experiencing delays outside of the six to eight weeks and this isn’t due to stops then HMCTS suggests getting in touch at contactprobate@justice.gov.uk and it will investigate.

See also

Place a deceased estates notice

What to do after someone dies: a checklist

Find out more

HM Courts & Tribunals Service (Gov)

Applying for probate (Gov)

‘Applying for Probate - Top Tips’ webinar (HMCTS)


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Publication date: 19 October 2019