Further delays at the Probate Registry

We have a few cases where online applications were submitted and straight forward queries raised by the Registry. Those queries were responded to and “uploaded” to the system back in May. Having been able to get through on the general enquiry line, we have been advised that they are presently working on the stopped applications from 15 February. It is now 8 July!!!

This is somewhat at odds with the fairly recent press release from HMCTS setting out the indicative timescales for stopped applications.

Do others have similar experiences? Can anything be done? Are we able to make further representations to HMCTS?

I’m not sure they are actually working on stops in date order, I had an application stopped in April and the Grant has been issued in the last couple of weeks.

When you say straight foward queries, are they things already covered in the application that have been overlooked by HMCTS during processing? If so it would be worth raising the delay as a complaint as their error is now preventing the estate being administered.

Otherwise I’m not sure there is much you can do other than keep chasing, although who has hours spare to wait on hold atm.

Lyndzey Smissen FCILEx
Paytons Solicitors LLP

I have the same experience as Justin. It is only by 'phoning (waiting 30 minutes) and getting someone to sort out the problem and referring it to the team leader that one makes headway.

Has anyone had any luck making applications urgent and them being expedited?
I have an application that was stopped in May (Probate Registry did not find the revocation clause on the Will!!) and I phoned yesterday as the sale of the deceased’s property is now ready for exchange. I was told I had to wait another 6-7 weeks at least and ‘no they do not expedite applications for the sale of property’ (the complete the opposite of a telephone discussion I had with them in May).
How do I progress this? I now have very angry clients and an itchy buyer.
Do I have to complain? This stop was not of my making but the Probate Registry not reading the Will properly.
Who do I complain to?

I’ve always sent complaints to contactprobate@justice.gov.uk

When I’ve made it clear that it is their error that has caused the delay and that it is having a negative impact on my client the Grants have generally magically appeared within a few days, although they later use that as reasoning for way my complaint won’t be investigated further.

Good luck.

My client started to get extremely upset about the delays and instructed me to make a complaint through the HMCTS portal, which I did, last week. I had an email yesterday from the Probate Court telling me the Grant would be issued in the next 5 days. I know they had everything they needed to issue and I had been calling regularly but I don’t know if it is the complaint or the regular processing that has delivered this result here.

I thought I would share in case anyone is urgently requiring the Grant (as we are for a related house purchase by a beneficiary). None of us like making a complaint lightly I am sure.

Clare Young
Legal Studio Solicitors

I read endless complaints on here about the Probate service with fury, disgust, and sympathy but I do believe those practising in this field and their clients should get together and take the government on with a crowdfunded JR.

Lawyers are good at fighting for their own clients and against other lawyers acting for their own clients but not very good at collaborating together against a big bullying well-heeled mutual opponent. The pusillanimous SRA and Law Society are never going to take on the Government (Three Bags Full, Sir!). Of course some will be reluctant to put their heads above the parapet and others will cynically wait on the fence to see how it turns out. But the duty to one’s individual client surely encompasses an obligation to at least explore collective action.

The modern publicity facilities for raucously embarrassing the Government if it tries to vengefully victimise particular lawyers or their clients should be a deterrent. The incompetence/poor performance of the Probate Service, without prejudice to its precise causes, is causing difficulty to citizens which must come close to infringing their human rights. This is the Government’s sole responsibility. Can the legal system be used to force it to act?

Jack Harper

I totally agree with Jack. Although I have now received probate for the case where they forgot to scan page one of the Will and told me it was missing when it was in fact on the back of page 2, I am still awaiting probate in the case where the application was made online last October (is that a record?). I think I mentioned previously that the executor had accidentally written “old will” on a page after the Will had been released to him as he wanted to make a personal application but then changed his mind and asked me to do so on his behalf. This writing was explained to HMCTS and I confirmed that we had a copy of the Will without those words on it and indeed at their request provided them with a fiat copy. In all, to date, the event history shows 22 events in all which is astounding. I have made at least six telephone calls to them and each time I experienced a long delay before I could speak with anyone. I now know off by heart the recorded messages and the music! My latest call was yesterday to again emphasise the urgency as my client is dying in hospital of cancer and needless to say this long delay has not helped him. My worry of course is that if I die before the grant is issued, which is going to incur the family in additional expense.
I appreciate that the probate court must be satisfied as to the validity of the Will and whether anything written on it such as in this case could affect the matter, the explanation I gave at the end of October was, I thought, sufficient but obviously not.

Patrick Moroney Bwl solicitors

Sorry the sentence towards the end of the penultimate paragraph of my post should have read: – “My worry is that if he dies before The grant is issued, this will involve the family in additional expense” These darn Voice recognition Systems are great but one does have to check the text more thoroughly. Incidentally I am hoping to last a bit longer!

Patrick Moroney

My predecessor filed the grant of administration back in Feb (!!!) and she left in mid-May without hearing anything from the Probate Registry. After reading through various posts in this forum I decided to file a compliant last week and it was granted immediately. Speechless.

Raymond Tang
Lee & Kan Solicitors

I filed a case in January; The registry have given the IHT421 one reference and the PA1P another- and yes, we did observe their rules on timings of submissions. They have, as a consequence, stopped both cases and appear utterly unable to make any progress in dealing with their own admitted “internal error”. We were told a week ago that a case manager would look at it. Nothing yet. That said, I filed my own father’s probate application on 2nd April; the estate isn’t taxable, but my mother asked me to act as her attorney. I queried, by email 3 weeks ago why the grant hadn’t arrived- no reply yet…