News | June 25, 2024

In Trust: Ask the Expert

Question: As an executor, what can I do to get around the current long delays with obtaining a grant of probate?

Despite an improvement to the waiting times for grants to be issued, the current average is still as long as eleven weeks for a completely accurate online application without any queries from the Probate Registry. If the Probate Registry require clarification on some aspect of your online application, you immediately nearly double your timeline to 21 weeks on average (on current figures). The timelines for a grant application on paper are even longer at 23-34 weeks on average, depending on whether there are any queries on the application. These timelines are a stark contrast to the pre-Covid timelines when a grant could be issued within a fortnight.

To reduce the waiting time for a grant to be issued, it is important to ensure your application has all the details required to avoid any queries from the Probate Registry. But how can you achieve that?

Firstly, keep time on your side where possible. Collate the financial information about the estate as soon as you can. This will give you time to analyse the information received and follow up if any details have been omitted by the institutions involved.

Once you have the information, reflect on how complex the estate is. Do the facts mean it would be better to ask for some professional help? Or are the details manageable for you?

Check your application thoroughly. Do not forget to double check all the small details that are easy to misremember – dates, names and addresses for example – as well as making sure that all the enclosures for the application are included.

Consider if you meet the criteria to apply for a grant online since we know that this has the best chance of a shorter turnaround time, provided that all the details are accepted.

If you are unsure, contact a professional. Wedlake Bell have specialist lawyers who can advise on all aspects of estate administration, including grant applications and the best way to mitigate the current delays. Prior to the General Election announcement, the House of Commons Justice Committee was conducting an inquiry into the probate delays and had received evidence from professionals, including Wedlake Bell. Although this work has now been paused, the evidence submitted and published will remain on the Committee’s website and we hope that once a new Justice Committee is in place this will influence future action and improvements to the current service.