Probate delays continue to wreak financial havoc on grieving families as further stories surface in the press.
Speaking to the Guardian, a distressed and frustrated reader recently described how probate delays had incurred huge financial costs to their family.
“My uncle died 11 months ago, and my mother also died, leaving my brother and myself to settle his estate. Ten months after applying for letters of administration, we are still waiting for probate to be granted”, said the reader DK in a letter to the Guardian.
“His house has to be sold to pay off an equity loan within 12 months of his death. We are losing £1,000 a month in interest on the loan with no sign of a solution”, they added, commenting on the financial burden that delays are causing.
The well-publicised news that the probate process was to move online in a bid to streamline the service amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year brought with it the hope, and expectation, that timeframes would reduce. But the service continues to struggle and many families are still waiting for grants of probate months later.
In light of delays and the additional news that the Government will increase probate fees from January, many experts and industry bodies are calling for radical change and service improvements.
“In 2020, people had to wait 12 to 14 weeks on average to receive their grant. This is unacceptable,” said Law Society president, I Stephanie Boyce.
“Our members have also told us that since the online probate service was made available to all professional users in October 2019, they have experienced issues with the online system, communication issues with HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), errors on issued grants, and property transactions have been impacted due to delays in grant of probate”, she added.
Responding to DK in the Guardian report, consumer affairs columnist Anna Tims, managed to resolve the issue and probate was granted within two days of raising the query. HMCTS said the delay was due to complications arising from the death of DK’s mother which had led to “clerical errors”.
“We apologise sincerely for delays that must have made a challenging period even more difficult,” said HMCTS.