Average wait for grant of probate soars to over 10 weeks

New data released by HM Courts and Tribunals Service has revealed the average wait between submission and grant issue for all probate applications reached over 10 weeks in December 2022.

While the average timeliness of a grant threatened to surpass the 10-week threshold on several occasions throughout 2022, it had not reached higher than 9.4 weeks before jumping to 10.2 weeks in December.

For digital applications, the average wait climbed from 6.9 weeks in November to 7.6 weeks in December, driven by the increase in waiting times for stopped applications from 17.2 weeks to 18.4 weeks in the same period. For context, the average wait for such applications did not pass 14 weeks between February and July of last year.

Though the delays for paper applications eased somewhat between November and December, the picture remains bleak. Specifically, the average wait sits at 19.6 weeks, down from 20.4 weeks in November. For stopped applications, delays are just under half a year (25.4 weeks), bringing the average wait for all applications to 15 weeks.

Ever-increasing delays in the probate process led to a recent report from the Financial Times describing “growing pressure” upon ministers to extend the current 12-month claims window for loss relief on share price falls for inheritance tax.

“Due to ongoing processing delays with probate applications, executors are losing the opportunity to claim relief from IHT,” said the Association of Taxation Technicians in a recent letter to parliament, adding:

“The ATT therefore considers that the current 12-month window is too short and needs to be extended to a two-year period, or at least an 18-month period from the date of death, on a permanent or temporary basis.”

Oliver Budiño, principal associate at Nockolds, added his support to the ATT’s calls: “I would say at least 50 per cent of cases where we are instructed are unresolved […] within 12 months of death,” he told the Financial Times.

“It can be a complete lottery as to whether an application is dealt with properly or not,” Rebecca Fisher, partner at Russell-Cooke, added in the report.

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