Update on probate service and bilingual grants

HMCTS has said their probate service is in a good place, with professional applications (paper or online) being returned within two weeks.

The Welsh service has also been launched including the roll out of bilingual new style Welsh grants. When you click 'apply for probate' you have the option to change to the Welsh language.

While this is a promising update, we relayed ongoing issues that our members are still encountering including:

  • waiting significant time for grants and the impact these delays are having including delays in releasing money from estates to beneficiaries; and property transactions being impacted
  • receiving grants with errors which have to be returned
  • emails and phone calls to the service centres going unanswered

We are told these are operational issues and will be raised again with the national services director to address.

Update

  • Concerns raised about the performance of the telephone service – HMCTS inform us that they have checked their data and state they are content the service is running as expected and any issues experienced should only be temporary during a particularly busy period.
  • To chase a ‘stopped’ case that has been replied to or a case outside the expected turnaround time, you are advised to call the CTSC number 0300 303 0648 who will either be able to help answer your query or get more information from the registry concerned.

You can also email probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk

Online service

Since the launch of the online service in October 2019, 1000+ firms (solicitors and chartered accountants) have registered to use the service.

HMCTS admit that they have not seen a great shift in applications coming through digitally.

They're looking at ways to help users manage their expectations of the service.

A new feature has been recently added for professional users where professional executors appointed in the will can now use the online system to apply for a grant of probate. Previously, only named persons could apply.

You can register and read more about the online probate service here.

Registries

With the probate service becoming a digitally enabled national service, several probate sub-registries and associated public counters have been closed.

These were located in:

  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Nottingham
  • Lincoln
  • York
  • Chester
  • Lancaster
  • Carlisle
  • Middlesbrough
  • Peterborough
  • Exeter
  • Gloucester
  • Leicester
  • Caernarvon
  • Carmarthen
  • Sheffield
  • Maidstone
  • Norwich
  • Bodmin

HMCTS has stated that these closures will not impact the time it takes to obtain grants of probate. Probate requests will now be handled by the Courts and Tribunals Service Centres.

On settling service, these go to Newcastle District Probate Registry now that many sub-registries are closed.

The probate service will only check validity of will, correct title and clearing. It will not check standard clauses nor proof read statements of truth.

A sample HMCTS settling service letter:

HMCTS settling service letter