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Wills, Probate & Trust

Probate Registry Delays

Monday, May 13, 2024

You may have heard the horror stories in the press about huge delays at the Probate Registry resulting in applications taking months (sometimes 18 months and beyond) to be processed and for Grants of Representation to be issued. Such delays cause havoc for executors and beneficiaries of deceased estates who are left waiting to sell properties and liquidate assets in order to settle the deceased’s affairs. Such additional stress and anxiety is far from desirable when dealing with a loved one’s passing. Well, we have some positive news for you…

Our experience recently is that applications submitted online are being processed and Grants issued well within the estimates given by the Probate Registry, often within four to six weeks or even quicker. So, what can you do to make sure your application is processed in these shorter timescales? Here are our top tips:

  1. Make sure you have a Will – most applications for Grants of Probate (where there is a Will and the executors named therein are applying) can be made online and these are largely being processed in a reasonably timeous manner. Only very limited applications for Grants of Letters of Administration (where there isn’t a Will or the executors appointed in the Will aren’t applying) can be made online and the rest need to be made on paper. These paper applications are taking a considerably longer time to be processed and for Grants to be issued.
  2. Make sure the Will is up to date – if an executor appointed in your Will has passed away, lost capacity or is otherwise unable to act in their capacity as executor, review your Will to appoint an alternative. This means any application to the Probate Registry will be for a Grant of Probate rather than Letters of Administration with Will Annexed.
  3. Appoint a professional – applications that are incomplete or contain erroneous information are stopped by the Probate Registry until their query is answered. When a query is answered, the application can then be put to the back of the queue, resulting in longer processing times. Appointing a professional as executor or your chosen executors appointing a professional to make the application on their behalf can minimise the risk of your application being stopped to fix errors or provide missing information, so your application retains its position in the queue.

If you require assistance with an estate or with making or updating your own Will to assist your family in the future, please contact the Wills, Probate and Trusts Department on 0191 232 8451 who will be happy to assist you.

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