COVID-19 impacts probate applications in the UK
In June, it was widely reported that HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) had been receiving a surge in probate applications. The Government tried to manage the surge in demand by hiring additional staff and upskilling existing staff to clear the backlog which resulted in average turnaround times of five to six weeks.
In a recent interview, Stephen Burgess from HMCTS provided reassurance that measures are in place to progress applications at an improved pace. “We have put significant extra resources into the probate service to prepare for any increases in levels of receipts,” Burgess said.
With the average probate application submitted 3 months after registration of a death, HMCTS is still anticipating a peak in applications from 5,000 per week to 9,000 due to the pandemic, but say they are prepared for the increased impending workload.
Probate registries have been under scrutiny for many months due to processing delays. The delays originally began after the rollout of a new IT case management system in spring 2019 which dramatically slowed down processing applications.
Despite HMCTS claims that applications are being processed promptly, some Executors, Administrators and estate administration providers are still reporting longer waits for Grants to be issued in some cases.