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Probate Chaos… again!

The Complex Procedure of Applying for Probate

Executors are once again experiencing huge delays in being able to obtain a Grant of Probate which in turn leads to delays in administering Estates.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is the legal authority an Executor appointed under a Will requires to collect in a deceased’s assets and distribute them to the correct beneficiaries in accordance with the Will. Where there is no Will, or the original Executors appointed cannot act, a Grant of Letters of Administration will be required instead. The legal process is similar, regardless of which form of Grant is to be obtained.

Current delays

Whereas a Grant could usually expect to be received within four to eight weeks, some Executors are seeing their application outstanding for in excess of three months.

The probate registry will mark an application as ‘stopped’ if additional information is required. We are finding that this commonly happens when Inheritance Tax is payable and the probate registry is waiting to receive from IHT421 from HMRC. When the form is received the application sits in a queue to be reviewed again. This process is causing significant delays.

The online service which is now mandatory for professionals applying for a Grant of Probate has also caused issues. Applicants have previously reported repeated failure of access codes and being diverted back to the login page despite entering the relevant details.

Property sales require a Grant to complete and the delay is causing many Executors to lose buyers and incur additional costs. Executors may also be unable to access funds held in bank accounts, investments etc. and have to deal with frustrated beneficiaries who are waiting for an inheritance.

Proposed fee increase

Despite the current chaos, the Government has announced a proposed increase in the Court fee charged to obtain a Grant. Currently, the fees are £155 if the application is made through a solicitor and £215 if made by an individual. The proposed increase is to a flat fee of £273 for all applicants. The consultation about the increase will run until 23 September 2021.

Next steps

If you need a Grant of Probate, particularly if a property sale is pending, you should take urgent advice on obtaining the Grant to ensure matters are put in hand as quickly as possible.

If you wish to speak to one of our team about Grant of Probate, then please get in touch. You can call us on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment or please fill in the form below and someone will get in touch.

Please click here to fill in our contact form

Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.