How to navigate 2024’s probate delays

In this article, we will explore the causes behind the backlog, as well as considerations to keep in mind when applying for probate and how to navigate any delays.

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Probate delays are becoming a growing concern for many, with the backlog now causing probate applications to take on average more than 14 weeks’.

Probate is the judicial process where the Will of a deceased person is “proved” in a court of law. It confirms the executors’ legal right to deal with the deceased’s property, money, and possessions. 

Probate application delays have increased by 100% in the past year, before which it took an average of just over 7 weeks to be issued a grant of probate. While the average wait time has increased, we are also aware of many cases where the wait can be even longer. 

The increased delays are being caused by factors including changes to the application system, reduced staff and service lines at HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), and the closure of local registries.

Executors are responsible for managing the deceased person’s debts and bills, which might include utility costs and mortgage payments. Without a grant of probate, it may be difficult or impossible to access the deceased’s accounts. This can mean that such bills need to be paid out of pocket by those left behind. The longer the delay, the more expensive and less manageable it can be.

Current delays are leaving many grieving families with a significant financial burden, as they are unable to sell assets such as property before a grant is issued. Furthermore, if the estate is subject to inheritance tax, it must be paid within six months following the individual’s death. After that, interest begins to accrue at a rate of 7.75%. Families may not have access to estate funds from which to pay this tax without the grant of probate, meaning any delays could make the tax bill more expensive.

Planning ahead and having a professionally drafted Will would minimise the impact of these delays, as it prevents probate applications from being stopped for queries around their validity, witnessing, or appointment of executors.

You can also mitigate the potential for delays by working with a solicitor to prepare the application for probate to avoid it being stopped. When an application enters the “stop queue”, it can be quite difficult to get it out. By receiving an expert solicitor’s support in drafting your probate application, you are much less likely to run into such complications and the resulting delays.

At TWM, we can assist with both the preparation of a Will and an application for probate. Our specialist private client solicitors have extensive experience in these areas and can remove some of the administrative pressure from what is an already difficult time.

To discuss your requirements, please contact our Private Client team today for an initial no-obligation consultation.

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In this article, we will explore the causes behind the backlog, as well as considerations to keep in mind when applying for probate and how to navigate any delays.

How to navigate 2024’s probate delays

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