Probate delays - What can I do?

We are all aware and no doubt suffering from the delays which are taking place in having probate issued. I have seen various comments about the steps being taken by HMCTS to improve the situation and I think I have seen more than once that they were now on track. Sadly that does not appear to be quite the case for below are two examples of cases of mine where we still await probate. Admittedly getting the IHT 421 issued does of course add to the overall delay.

Case 1: IHT 421 sent to HMRC on 10 March and returned on 28 April and sent to Probate Registry on that date. HMRC therefore took seven weeks to stamp the form and the Probate Registry has had the papers for over eight weeks!

Case 2: IHT 421 sent to HMRC on 6 April and returned on 24 April and sent to Probate Registry on that date. An improvement with HMRC which only took 2 1/2 weeks. The Probate Registry has had the papers for almost 9 weeks!
Neither case had any complications as regards the wills et cetera so without being able to make contact with the men from the ministry to find out what has happened we are just left wondering.

In the meantime The executors are prevented from selling a sizeable portfolio of shares and as a result may incur a loss over the probate value. No way of claiming compensation!

Patrick Moroney
BWL solicitors

I too am experiencing great delays. Since mid-March I had been waiting to receive the IHT421 in five estates. In two of those estates I received a letter from HMRC saying that, because of COVID, they could not send the IHT421 to me and that they had sent it to HMCTS, so in those estates I then applied for Probate. As I said in a previous post, if HMRC can write to me to tell me that they have sent the IHT421 to HMCTS, surely they could have sent me the IHT421 instead of a letter about it.

I have heard nothing from HMRC about the other three estates, so have no idea whether or not they have sent the IHT421 to HMCTS. I can of course send the applications to HMCTS but if there is a delay in receiving the Grants I will not know whether this delay is on the part of HMRC or HMCTS. As they are both almost impossible to contact now, it makes it very difficult to pursue an outstanding matter.

Cliona O’Tuama


I assist Executors in making personal applications for Grants of Probate and am experiencing similar delays, even in very straightforward IHT205 cases.

Two applications were sent off in the same envelope on 24th April for a married couple who had died within nine days of each other and the Grant for the wife was received by my client on 5th June from Oxford Registry, but the Grant for the husband was not received until 23 June, from Newcastle.

In an IHT400 case, where the papers were posted to the Registry and HMRC on 24th April (three weeks after the tax had been paid using the Direct Payment scheme), HMRC wrote to my client four weeks later to say that they had e-mailed the IHT421 to the Probate Registry. However, that is six weeks ago and there is still no sign of the Grant.

As it is impossible to contact the Registries by telephone, sadly there is not much you can do except perhaps raise the matter with your local MP, although don’t expect a quick reply from him or her either - when I e-mailed mine about another matter, I received an acknowledgement a few days later which said that replies are taking longer than usual due to Covid-19 and four weeks later I am still waiting for a substantive reply!

David Price
David Price & Co.