Justice Select Committee probate inquiry – Law Society response

We've submitted our response to the Justice Select Committee's probate inquiry.

The Justice Select Committee's probate inquiry is taking evidence on:

  • capacity, resources and delays across the probate service
  • the impact of digitisation, including the effectiveness of the probate portal
  • people’s experiences of the probate service
  • fees and thresholds

The problem

Our members have reported significant, ongoing problems with the probate service since 2018.

In this time, we have consistently received regular feedback citing concerns on:

  • the impact of delays
  • the roll out and use of the probate portal, and
  • the performance of staff

In 2016, before changes were made to the service, applications took on average seven to 10 working days to process.

Now, our members cite delays of 30+ weeks and, in some instances, over a year’s delay.

There have been gradual signs of improvement.

By the end of 2023, more grants were being issued than applications received, and the backlog is slowly being reduced.

Our recommendations

We recommend HM Courts and Tribunals Service:

  • ensures there is a strong workforce with the required knowledge and expertise to handle both digital and paper applications
  • makes improvements to the online system
  • improves the process of stopping a probate application
  • introduces a minimum service level standard
  • improves data collection and sharing
  • undertakes further consultation before expanding the digital service
  • ensures future online probate processes are user designed

Next steps

The deadline for submissions was Monday 22 January 2024.

Read about the inquiry on the Parliament website

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