Court reform

Reassurance the probate service is under control

HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has been able to identify additional resource to deal with an expected increase in probate requests following the coronavirus crisis. This increase includes more applications being sent by solicitors as the lockdown continues to ease, coupled with the increase in COVID-19 related deaths.

It had made us aware of these plans when we met with HMCTS in May and wants to reassure members that the service is under control.

Additional resource

New and existing staff have been trained to handle applications and to deal with some of the simpler elements of the process such as inputting data, to allow more experienced staff to complete the more complex work. HMCTS is also seeking additional support from legal advisers to support the processing of work.

It has stated that it expects some volatility in waiting times in the coming weeks as the additional resources get established and if receipts increase as forecast.

How members can help the service

HMCTS continues to ask for your support in ensuring that you only contact it if absolutely necessary and do not chase cases that are within its timescales.

If it mentions that it is examining applications received in the week commencing 25 May, that is the point the grant is issued in the system and there are a couple of working days until the paperwork arrives at your offices.

It has asked that you do not contact it until at least seven days have passed.

Online service

One in five professional probate applications is done online and members are encouraged to adopt the online service. The recently published FAQ document aims to support legal professionals using the probate service.

If solicitors are not yet using the online service, they will need to use the new forms. Annotated versions of the new forms by the Registrars are due to be published soon.

We will be meeting with HMCTS and other professional bodies again at the end of July.

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