Lengthening probate application delays counter recent signs of progress

Probate application delays reveal a slight increase from the previous month of this year – increasing from 13.9 weeks to 14, new data from HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has revealed.

For the 22,922 grants of probate issued in July 2023, the average timeline from submission to grant was 14 weeks – showing an increase from June 2023 which was 13.9, according to the data.

Despite the slight increase, this is still a decrease from the 15.4 weeks recorded in May this year. The data also continues to remain above the 12-month average of 11 weeks.

Of the 22,922 total number of grants issued, 20,377 were digital. For non-stopped applications, the average wait was 8.9 weeks, which shows a decrease from the month of June which was 9.2 weeks.

For stopped digital applications, delays sat at an average of 21 weeks in July – a slight increase from the previous month (19.3 weeks). This 21 week wait also shows the longest wait for stopped digital applications over the past year.

What’s more, the remaining 4081 probate grants in July were issued via paper. The average wait between submission and grant for a paper application was 22.6 weeks, up from 21.2 in June. For stopped applications, the 30.2 week wait is up from 28.8 weeks in the previous month, with non-stopped applications also rising to a 16.8 week wait from a 15.7 week wait in June.

Questioning the government on probate delays in the House of Lords last month, Lord Willis of Knaresborough asked “why applications for probate, which require no additional documentation, cannot be processed using artificial intelligence (AI) and completed immediately”.

This is something HMCTS is considering, confirmed justice minister Lord Bellamy:

“HMCTS is conducting an investigation to explore the potential applications of AI in the Courts and Tribunals, which raises important policy, ethical, legal, and social issues to be considered.”

One Response

  1. URGENT – the Probate Registry Service is currently DIRE, please sign our Petition for improvments, and draw it to the attention of your MP:Click this link to sign the petition: (it may vanish for a period for initial consideration).

    I will be looking for personal case studies of the effect this has had on families – please email steve@theprobatedepartment.co.uk with a phone number.

    My petition:

    Make the Probate Registry more customer friendly.
    No information for 16 weeks after submission, bills can’t be paid, whilst beneficiaries pester executors and increase professional fees.
    Acknowledge applications, update by email, text or post every 4 weeks.
    Have a nominated individual or small team dealing with each case.
    Answer the phone (there would be less calls with automatic updates).
    At the present moment “problem” cases are apparently being dealt with 9 months after submission – and the issue may be a simple clerical error.
    Dealing with the probate registry is a further twist of the knife for the already suffering bereaved.
    Incidentally, a recent survey showed that 1% of executors found the process easier than expected, and 99% did not.

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