New data from HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has revealed that probate delays are continuing to grow for digital, paper, stopped, and not stopped applications.
The average total time taken from submission to grant issue for all probate applications, including both digital and paper, was 9.3 weeks in September 2022.
This represents the biggest delay seen since October 2021. It’s a climb of 5.7% from the previous month of August, and is a striking 16.3% higher than delays seen as recently as April of this year.
The total number of receipts was 20,486 in September, over 2,000 less than in August and over 1,000 less than September of last year.
21,765 grants were issued in September, of which 17,895 were digital. The average time taken from submission to grant for a digital application was 7.2 weeks. For those not stopped, this was 4.2 weeks. Stopped applications took an average of 15.2 weeks.
The remaining 3,870 paper grants took an average of 18.6 weeks – over two-and-a-half times the time taken for the average digital application, and 40% longer than the average delay of 13.3 in September 2021.
For stopped paper applications, the average delay was 27.3 weeks up from 19.2 weeks this time last year. For those not stopped, the average wait was 11.9 weeks.
This comes as Ministry of Justice data for Q2 2022 revealed probate delays began to slightly ease earlier in the year, though a different picture emerges from the more recent data provided by HMCTS.
SFE Director and Partner at Morr & Co LLP Holly Chantler said recent SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) research in October revealed its members are still dealing with probate delays.
“The delays in probate have caused distress for many bereaved families in the UK, adding to the strain of an already tough and emotional situation. Often families are left in the dark as to why things are taking so long further adding to their frustration,” said Chantler, adding:
“Our recent research, carried out in October 2022, shows that 72% of our members are experiencing delays, with lack of staff, resourcing and paper applications taking longer to process compared to online applications being cited as potential reasons for the lengthy wait time.
Whilst we appreciate that there are currently resourcing issues, we believe that investing in technology is key to improving the situation. By providing families with regular updates on where their application is in the process, the emotional distress bereaved families across up and down the country are currently experiencing would be eased. They would no longer be left in limbo, and the process of granting probate would be much more streamlined.”