Probate applications reveal signs of improvements, data shows

Despite previous continued delays revealed in probate applications, recent data from HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has shown a generous decrease in the number of weeks from submission to grant issue for all probate applications – decreasing from 15.8 to 13.6.

For the 24,020 grants of probate issued in December, the average timeline from submission to grant was 13.6 weeks – showing a decrease from November which was 15.8, according to the data.

This shows that it is the shortest waiting time since July last year, which was 13.9 weeks. After this time, the waiting time seemed to keep going up – resulting in a new waiting time record of 15.8 weeks which sparked concerns within the industry.

Of the 24,020 total number of grants issued, 20,142 were digital. For non-stopped applications, the average wait was 9.2 weeks, which shows a small decrease from the month of November which was 9.9 weeks. This is the shortest wait since July 2023.

For stopped digital applications, delays sat  19.9 weeks in December – a generous decrease from the previous month (23 weeks). This 19.9 week wait also shows the shortest wait for stopped digital applications since June of last year.

What’s more, the remaining 3,878 probate grants in December were issued via paper. The average wait between submission and grant for a paper application was 20.7 weeks, down from 22.3 in November. For stopped applications, the 27.6 week wait in December is down from the 30.1 weeks in the previous month.

The data reveals some signs of positivity for the continued probate delay discussion which even sparked conversation in the national press.

What’s more, STEP recently surveyed its members to provide evidence about the impact of probate delays, potential causes, and recommendations to reduce delays. Probate registry errors were revealed as a key cause of stopped, and therefore delayed, applications by 68% of respondents. Most (61%) respondents highlighted that applications were delayed still further because of a lack of senior staff to review them.

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