Rowlinsons Solicitors have warned that executors and beneficiaries could be facing a lengthy wait if they hold off applying for Grant of Probate.
Last year grieving families faced delays of three months to due to software problems at HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), plus a spike in demand due to the proposed hike in probate fees, which was later scrapped.
The Government has revealed that applications for grants of probate have fallen by 50% since 23rd March 2020, but as the lockdown eases there may well be a surge in applications due to the number of deaths that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. HMCTS have stated they will recruit more staff to process probate applications if needed, but it is unclear whether this would again result in a backlog and further delays.
Donna Eland, Head of Private Client commented:
“Delays during the estate administration process cause additional stress during an already difficult time for grieving families. It is currently taking 5 weeks to receive a Grant of Probate and we can see this increasing if people continue to delay starting the process.
Dealing with matters following a death can be emotional and challenging at the best of times and, due to the pandemic, it seems people have been unsure how to proceed. Although certain elements have been adapted to reflect the social distancing measures in place, it is still possible to carry out the probate process.
In addition to delays with HMCTS, banks and other financial institutions are taking longer than usual to respond to requests for information so we are urging executors to start the process as soon as possible. This is particularly relevant where Inheritance Tax may be payable in an estate, as this should be paid within six months from the date of death.”
Rowlinsons have taken all necessary precautions with regards the safety of clients and staff. Very limited contact is required when dealing with probate and the vast majority can be dealt with over the phone, video calls or email.
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