Probate service enquiry line revised opening hours

From Wednesday 14th February 2024, for a period of 12 weeks, the probate enquiry phoneline will run from 9am to 1pm from Monday to Friday.

You can still contact the probate service via webchat from 9am to 5pm on all weekdays.

Applications will continue to be granted as usual and should continue to be submitted via MyHMCTS.

You can check the progress and status of your applications by logging into MyHMCTS and checking your case list page.

Law Society of England and Wales president Nick Emmerson said that they have been “aware of the significant delays” in probate service for some time, with their “members citing delays of more than 30 weeks”. He continued:

“Delays to the probate service can adversely impact families during a difficult time, as they deal with the loss of a loved one.

We recognise HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) efforts in reducing delays and cautiously agree with the temporary reduction of probate enquiry line opening hours in order to address a forecasted peak in applications.

However, we have long highlighted concerns around the performance and level of expertise of staff. There needs to be sustained improvements in the probate service.

HMCTS must ensure there is a strong workforce with the required knowledge and expertise to handle both digital and paper applications. Without a new level of staffing, the change in probate enquiry line opening hours will be in vain and our members’ clients will continue to suffer.”

3 responses

  1. This comes on top of their other recent tweak to the online service whereby you now have to wait for a letter from HMRC before you can even produce the legal statement for clients to sign. Just adding more delay to the already tedious, soul destroying business of probate. Never mind, HMRC just earns more interest on unpaid instalments the longer HMCTS can delay things. I despair of our once decent public sector.

  2. HMCTS seem to employ a lot of staff who don’t understand the law regarding who can apply for Letters of Administration in intestate Estates. They recently told a client who was a first cousin once removed of the deceased (his father having predeceased the deceased, which was explained clearly in the PA1A) and one of 12 beneficiaries entitled to the Estate, that he could not apply because there were closer kin (first cousins) who should apply. It had to be explained to them that anyone who is entitled to share in the Estate can apply and that my client would only have been unable to apply if his own father had survived the deceased. Surely even a trainee solicitor would know that, but it seems to be beyond the knowledge of HMCTS staff and it delayed the application by 3 months because it took them that long to raise the query. Remember the good old days (not too long ago) when you could choose which Registry to submit the paper application to and would normally receive the Grant within two weeks, even for intestate Estate?

  3. For personal applications The Probate Registry states that they aim to issue Grants of Probate/Letters of Administration within sixteen weeks of submitting the application.

    However, from our experience, the 16 weeks does NOT start until the Probate Registry issues you with their acknowledgement and reference numbers, this alone can take up to 8 weeks from the date it was posted. Therefore, from the date of posting, it can take up to 24 weeks to get the grant. There is very little that can be done to chase the Probate Registry up sadly.

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