Probate Delays – Updated Regularly September 2021

Probate Delays Part 1 – How to avoid them

 

According to the Mail, some problems have arisen from the outsourcing of scanning to a private firm, Exela Technologies, which runs the scanning operation at Harlow. I am sure there has always been the odd error in scanning, but these days Registry staff don’t normally see the actual documents, just scanned copies.  Those of you who have used scanners at speed will realise that mistakes do occur, pages are missed and scans are not always readable.  Not that this is new advice, but it is always prudent to keep full copies of everything sent to Harlow, and such copies may at least ease any problems which do occur there or in the post.  We have asked Excela for a statement.  I can understand the Government trying to reduce costs by speeding up with modern technology and de-skilling, but can’t help but wonder if attempting to centralise the whole of the probate process – which seems to be the intention – serves the people better than adding moderate extra costs to the fees for larger estates. No one wants to wait an hour on a helpline which may or may not be able to help (we suggest emailing and waiting 2 weeks before chasing).

Many cases are “STOPPED” for no obvious reason, though the most common are:

  • missing IHT400 forms (often because the IHT400 was sent to HMRC on the same day as the probate application rather than 4 weeks earlier as required, so the two don’t match up immediately.
  • IHT205 forms sent to HMRC rather than to the Probate Registry with the application for the Grant.
  • Unexplained damage to Wills.

So after the 8 week delay, always ask for confirmation that the case has not been stopped, just to be on the safe side.

Registry contact details. (PDF)

One update which I think may be questionable is the Registry is no longer to require death certificates for deceased executors.  Hopefully, they do the check themselves, but if not it does rather leave scope for things to go wrong.

Current delays for non-IHT400 cases are (on average) are weirdly less if there was no Will at just under 9 weeks, just under 14 weeks if there was a Will. If an IHT 400 was required, then they typically take 4 weeks for the taxman to process before those times even start.  Many cases are stopped by HMCTS, sometimes for valid reasons, and that can lead to further delays.  But on the bright side, some get through far quicker: it’s a bit of a lottery – much like most things just at the moment. The main lesson is to get the Inheritance Tax forms in at the right time and triple check everything else. If you aren’t sure, we can introduce you to relatively inexpensive checking services. 

Before I start, I should say that the Probate Registry will ONLY deal with your lawyers, or if none, then the named executors. No one else has any right to information from them at this stage. (But after the Grant is issued, anyone can get a copy of it and the Will if there is one.) Please don’t chase if you are not the executor, you will just slow things down. Executors should not chase within 8 weeks. But what does 8 weeks actually mean?

If IHT400 forms are involved, NOTHING will happen until clearance has been obtained from HMRC and communicated by them to the Probate Registry. Probate forms should not be submitted until 20 working days after HMRC received the IHT forms. Sending them in earlier may cause further delays as they are put in a pile to await the clearance certificate. This does NOT apply if the IHT205 is appropriate as that goes in with the probate application direct to the Registry at Harlow. – What to do after a death? 

Is the application with the Registry?

Firstly, none of the time runs until the probate application has been received by the Registry, something which many people forget. Depending on the complexity of the estate and workload of the person putting the application together, that can mean the clock doesn’t start ticking for anywhere between 3 and 12 months – sometimes longer.   

So the first question is to confirm with whoever is doing the paperwork whether the application is in the hands of HMCTS? 

  • If yes, when was it sent?
  • If yes, has the fee been paid? 
  • If yes, have any questions been raised by HMCTS? (or HMRC) ? 
  • If yes, have they been fully answered? 
  • Has a clearance certificate been issued and the number communicated to the Registry by HMRC (not needed with IHT205).
  • If yes, then the clock should have started ticking!

Where an IHT 400 is required, 8 weeks means 12 weeks (3 months for all practical purposes) – 20 working days for  HMRC to process the IHT400 before you can send the probate application to HMCTS (the probate court) can start their 8 weeks (which is all over the place in reality.) We would strongly recommend checking after the 8 or 12 weeks, as sometimes questions don’t get through, or documents are just misplaced or never arrive at all.

How to sell a probate property fast

Probate Delays Part 2: What is the current situation at the Probate Registry?

Summary: don’t chase the Registry for at least 8 weeks after they received the application. If the IHT205 was not used, then allow at least a further four weeks for the Taxman (HMRC) to confirm to the Registry that tax matters are in order.  Remember, Inheritance Tax has to be paid BEFORE the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration can be issued. You need a clearance certificate.

Registry update 

  • Improvements to the probate service on MyHMCTS are planned in mid-July 2021. To prepare for this please submit or delete unsubmitted cases on your dashboard. Unsubmitted cases will not be available after the improvements go live. More information on the improvements and updated guidance will be published in due course.

Probate service
We (the Probate Registry) are currently unable to provide updates on how your case is progressing. If you have an urgent query please call us on 0300 303 0648, but please be aware we are offering limited telephone service. We are prioritising supporting people who have waited eight weeks after submitting their Probate applications.

If you are seeking support or advice before making an application please use our online website service.
Please visit https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate and scroll down to our “Get help and advice” section.

Typical probate waiting times:
Probate applications currently take eight weeks to be fully processed. They will contact you when they have reviewed your application if further information is needed. You do not need to do anything until then. (Ed: i.e. do nothing unless they contact you, unless they have had your application for more than 8 weeks. As stated below, you should always use recorded delivery, but the confirmation system at Royal Mail may not be working.)

How are Probate Applications handled?

First, the all-important expected timings for processing ACCURATE and FULLY COMPLETED applications. The target is 4 weeks, but the reality is 8, and sometimes more.

If you are NOT the executor, please don’t delay things further by asking for information, as you are not entitled to it under the Data Protection Act.

Executors are asked not to chase cases for at least 8 weeks, unless there genuinely special circumstances, or you will be delaying work.

Enquiries from executors ONLY: 0300 303 0648 or contactprobate@justice.gov.uk

If you just want the Probate Application Pack or have Inheritance Tax queries, call 0300 123 1072.

What has all this to do with us? We’re probate brokers, finding the right level of advice at the right cost for those who need a little – or a lot Legal Advice. We are NOT advisers, but can often point you in the right direction. Contact us on 03 300 102 300 or info@theprobatedepartment.co.uk

The Probate Application Process:

If an IHT400 is required, please make sure you send it to the HMRC 3 weeks before the probate application is submitted, ideally with a clearance number. Sending earlier may mean it takes longer for the two things to be tied together.

All non-professional applications are posted to Harlow, though it should be noted that Recorded Delivery records held by the Royal Mail are not always up to date. Harlow address is HMCTS Probate, Po Box 12625, Harlow, CM20 9QE.

Harlow is the initial administration centre for ALL applications by non-professionals where 

  1. All paper applications + supporting documents by personal applicants are scanned and converted into digital cases. Harlow is an administrative centre only does not do any further work on individual cases after scanning the documents sent to it.
  2. Harlow is also where all supporting documents are sent where personal applicants have applied and where legal professionals have applied digitally. These are scanned and then attached to the digital case.
  3. Once scanned in, the cases are then processed by Birmingham Courts and Tribunals Service Centre (CTSC) – all contacts are through the number and email above unless you are told otherwise in a specific case.
  4. Paper applications by legal professionals ONLY are NOT sent to Harlow, they are still sent to Registries and are dealt with as paper cases – we do NOT know which one you should use I am afraid!

16th September 2020 – encouraging news – many Grants are coming through in as little as 4 weeks!

1st September 2020 Guidance as to the replacement of affidavits with statements of truth in non-contentious probate processes

24th August 2020. The Ministry of Justice confirmed that the 8 week period still applies, executors can contact them before that ONLY if it is essential, so it would be prudent to ensure any property buyers are aware of the delays.

Please do not call us if a probate application has been submitted, we cannot help! [mbhi location=”The Probate Department”]

We’re not too sure what is happening at the moment – we have heard of people getting a grant in 8 days (clearly a miracle!) and still waiting with no response to enquiries after more than 3 months! Please try to avoid getting in the situation where you are being pressed to exchange contracts on the sale of the deceased persons’ property with no grant. If it does happen, email the Registry as soon as possible – but they may not be able to help, so manage buyers expectations in advance.

There are many reasons for probate delays, other than staffing problems:

  • Has the application actually been sent off? It can take a long time to extract the necessary information from some institutions. Ask the person in charge to confirm when the application was posted to the Registry.
  • Did you send it to the correct address? There is currently only one, which is: HMCTS Probate, PO Box 12625, HARLOW, CM20 9QE. Applications sent elsewhere may take a while to get into the system.
  • Have you paid, and included the payment reference when the application was posted?
  • Was it sent Recorded Delivery? Have you checked that it arrived with the Post Office?
  • Has any Inheritance Tax been paid, or an agreement reached with the Registry? Nothing will happen if not.
  • Has any correspondence been sent to the wrong address, perhaps because you misunderstood the form? If you don’t reply, nothing will happen.
  • Check that your payment to the Registry cleared.

Is Probate Needed?

Probate, how much does it cost?

The next paragraph is an advert, so skip over it if you have already applied.

If you are starting on the process, don’t forget we are Probate Brokers and can organise relatively inexpensive help ranging from half an hours advice through to a fully supported service where you help as much as you can OR the traditional route where you throw everything at a solicitor or other specialist and let them sort it all out. Either way, the cost comes from or should be reimbursed from the estate. Contact Us.

Probate Delays Updates

The Probate service are currently unable to provide updates on how your case is progressing in the first 8 weeks. If you have an urgent query please email them (not us!) Please do not contact them while they review your application.

Typical waiting times:
Probate applications currently (allegedly) take eight weeks to be fully processed. They will contact you when they have reviewed your application if they have any questions. You do not need to do anything until then.

Executors: If it is more than 8 weeks, email: contactprobate@justice.gov.uk

I found that a case I had personal involvement in had just been forgotten because the official involved had not actually asked the question they needed the executor to answer. Their staff are just as stressed (if not more so) than the rest of us. 

Further information:
• Please visit www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate to find out if you need to apply for Probate.
• Please visit www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate for information on how to apply online and how to access forms and guidance on Probate. This includes information on fees, where to send your Probate forms (PA1A and PA1P), and other forms supporting your application.

If you have an urgent enquiry:
Please email contactprobate@justice.gov.uk. They will respond to all emails as soon as possible.

8th April 2020 – most people are still sending applications to the wrong place, and phoning offices which are closed except for taking money. That aside, delays are allegedly down to 4 weeks once all the ducks are in a row (HMRC approval and payment where necessary, documents in correct place, documents correct, payment correct, payment and documents tied together, no queries). Get one of those wrong and you are not even in the pile to be processed!

Download latest Probate Registry procedure and contact

Has the Grant been issued? This is where to go to check, though we understand that there are serious delays in updating newly issued cases.

Probate Delays for technical or staffing issues.

 

Probate Disputes/ Arguments 20th December 2019 We have just discovered that there may be a delay of up to 5 months in making copy Wills and Grants available after probate has been granted. This WILL lead to cases where it is (in theory) too late to contest a Will or Grant within the normal 6 month time limit. It will be at a judges 

discretion whether to accept an out of time application, which means more cost and delay. This makes earlier action if there may be a dispute more important, and we have a number of excellent firms who can help in such cases at relatively modest cost. Don’t wait until there is time for the money to be gone!!

It still seems to be pretty much a waste of time to phone Registries, except to make payment on their payment only line. Personally, I would send a cheque to save time. Always used Recorded or Special Delivery.

We did have one enquiry where it turned out that the grant had been issued months before, but for one reason or another, never turned up in the executors’ post! You can check if a grant has been issued HERE and also obtain a copy. Make sure the probate delay is real!

We can’t help with probate delays directly, being a private company, but if you read on you will find out what you can do if the probate registry has not issued your Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration within 8 weeks of it being submitted and complete. The clock stops if the Registry asks any further questions until those questions are fully answered.

As the proposed fee increases have been dropped, for the moment, things should get back to normal.

Please be aware that the majority of grants are printed and posted from bulk printing and that grants can take up to 48 hours to be posted (more over a weekend) after the 4 weeks so please allow up to five days for delivery.

Do not to commit to an exchange or completion deadline when putting properties on the market to sell without Probate being in place as long probate holdups may not be able to accommodate these until the backlog has cleared.

All cases were being processed in date order, a policy which has now been amended to leave those already facing longer probate delays worse off. Please note all registries are working to the same time scales and if need be, work is being shared to ensure that all Registries are issuing around the same date.

Please only contact the Registries about probate holdups if the matter is extremely urgent or if you believe your application was received by the Registry more than 8 weeks ago, and then use the probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk email.

They are unable to expedite an application for any other reason.

  • Copy Wills

Although no copy will is automatically provided with the grant, please ensure that you submit two plain, uncertified A4 sized copies of the will with your applications.

  • Calls from clients
  • recent probate delays had lead to an increase in telephone calls received from executors/administrators to chase the progress of an application on the advice of their solicitor. While the Registrars understand the frustration of executors, they ask that this is not suggested to clients as they are unable to discuss any aspect of the application with them UNLESS they have made a personal application.

Please be aware that the majority of grants are printed and posted from bulk printing and that grants can take up to 48 hours to be posted after the above date and so please allow up to five days for delivery.

Please be assured the team are continuing to do all we can to process these cases as quickly as possible.

  • Copy Wills

If your application was straightforward…

According to the Ministry, probate cases that have not been granted within 8 weeks need investigating PROVIDED that the Registry has raised no questions with the executor. This stops the clock and the 4 weeks does not restart until the question has been fully resolved.

Web: www.gov.uk/hmcts

ADVICE: Play it safe, triple check the forms, send by recorded or special delivery, pay by cheque or bank draft and check that is paid in by the Registry. Then sit and wait.  We suspect waiting times would come down if everyone was not chasing up their grants!

How to find a Will – Lost or Mislaid?

Being an executor can be tough, why not check out our guide on what to do after a death?

Need help choosing a funeral director?

How to register a death?

probate delays

59 thoughts on “Probate Delays – Updated Regularly September 2021”

  1. FYI Probate delays (not?): just had my DIY Probate application approved after only 3 weeks, so maybe things are improving at HMCTS? Estate was under IHT but only just. Thanks for all the advice & info on your site, thought you might like to have this update.

  2. I have been waiting over two years now to get our mum’s estate sorted. 16 letters and several complaints. This has been passed to 3 different registries, I have been lied to, misled by ambiguous and conflicting paperwork from them and my sister has died during all of this so has missed out on her inheritance. I have had a mental breakdown because of this and I’m a pensioner and don’t have the money to use solicitors.

  3. Amanda Freeman

    Feeling totally lied to by the executors of my late mother’s will . A very straight forward, no inheritance tax required. I have done most of the work before and during this 15 month period. While friends of mine in a similar situation were completed in 8 weeks. So stressful, wish the executor had not been a solicitor!

  4. Sandra J Mitchell

    My husband died July 2020 most of his assets were tax free the solicitor submitted probate forms in October 2020 & we still haven’t had notification of probate repeated calls to solicitors are expensive the latest information is that HMRC have blocked the process I have paid out over £10,000;from my meager savings & wonder how much longer I will have to wait

  5. Oh dear!
    There do seem to be an unusual number of “stops” where the Registry raises queries – most of which are sensible.
    That makes it pretty much impossible for the family to find out what the problem is if a professional is handling the case. The Registry may refuse to answer even legitimate questions from family executors, saying that they can only speak to the professional – which means the professional charges you for the time: that can mean a lot of extra cost, especially if you are being charged in 6 minute units, and then the Registry takes 30 minutes (5 units) to even answer the phone, then another 2 to get an answer. Then the solicitor writes to you – maybe another 2 units. That could easily be well over £300 for one chase. Chances are it isn’t the solicitors fault – but you will probably never find out!

  6. A professionals reputation is on the line when they take on full responsibility, so they will need to check things carefully, which takes time. But that does seem excessive if it really was straightforward!
    For those who are happy to take prime responsibility, we can organise supporting help at a tiny fraction of the cost of a full service. Just get in touch!

  7. The cheapest option is to let the solicitor deal with it – the more you ask them to chase, the bigger the bill will be. Hopefully, they will do a good job for you, but every call you make to them will generate significant extra costs.
    You could call or write to HMCTS Probate PO Box 12625 HARLOW CM20 9QE or email contactprobate@justice.gov.uk but it is possible they will only deal with the solictor.
    Many people have tried to ring the Registry on 0300 303 0648 but given up with very long call waiting times.
    Life is just not the same with people working from home.
    Just ask what the hold up is – and good luck!

  8. Jonathan Armstrong

    My solicitor and legal representative sent my late mothers IHT400 & IHT421 to HMRC on the 18 January 2021 and on the 15th Febuary I signed the the Statement of Truth for the Probate Registry digital application. There were no executors as my mothers Will was renounced and she owned NO TAX as she had left her entire estate to my late father who passed away 6 months after her and whom I had recieved Letters of Administration for. On March 22nd my solicitor confirmed he’d swooped emails with the Probate Registry in Newcastle confirming they were processing the application; as HMRC did’nt send out a letter re the IHT 421 certification. My solisitor chased the Registry on the 8th and again on the 19th of April and was again told the application was being proceed.
    On May 21st, twenty weeks after the IHT400 was sent to HMRC I both emailed and phoned the Registry and was unceremoniously refused to be dealt with, being told they would only deal with a solisitor or an executor, even though I’d provided a copy of my Late fathers Letters of Administration appointing me as the estates legal representative. My solicitor duly sent another email and was simply told again it was at the CTSC Digital Application Probate Registry. Again I waited another two weeks before attempting to phone the Probate Registry again on the 2nd June 2021. Once again they refused to provide me with any information apart claiming the delay was caused by the Coronavirus pandemic! This was not true as the Government’s website claims they had taken on extra staff from December 2020 to deal with any delays and 4-8 weeks was the average time to process applications. I challenged the Probate Registy’s representatives explanation and was told they had requested extra information from my solicitor. I asked my solicitor what this extra information was and was told he supplied HMRC IHT406 & IHT436 on the 9th of Febuary 2021. I asked my solisitor to chase the Probate Registry again on 11th June, exactly six months to the day the IHT400 & 421 forms were sent to HMRC. This morning my solicitor recieved a reply from the Registry claiming they had not recieved the IHT421 from HMRC! My solicitor is therefore having to resubmit IHT421 to HMRC and we have no idea when I will eventually receive my grant of representation. Additionally because of this delay I’m unable to take advantage of the Stamp duty amnesty to help to sell my late parents property.
    I believe there is a deep rooted problem with the HMRC IHT process especially the IHT421 and with the Probate Registry’s accountability. Over six months to process a Grant of Administration is disgraceful and the Probate Registry needs to be held to account.

  9. It is important not to submit the application for a grant until HMRC have had time to allocate a reference and put the details in the system to ensure the Registry can tie the two things together first time.
    I am not suggesting this is what happened, just making the point that IHT400 etc need to be submitted well before the application for grant is sent in.
    And it would not be the first time that something correctly submitted has been lost.

    The bigger concern (for me) is the refusal to speak to Executors when a professional is involved – a simple enquiry can easily add £100 or more to the legal bill, way more if it has to be chased repeatedly.

  10. I am sole executor to my late mothers estate. I submitted on-line everything on 4th March 2021 and got an IHT reference (no IHT due).
    However I made an error with date of death on there form, and the Probate Registry contacted me by email on 14 April and I responded and corrected the error same day by return. It took them a week to look at my response.
    I managed to get through by telephone yesterday and was told that whenever a query is raised the application goes to a Stopped Status. currently the department dealing with stoped cases is looking at those dated 1st March!
    I know I made an error, this is a simple case, everything else looks good on the application no other issues raised. I am being unjustly punished for a slip of the keyboard.

  11. Good Lord – so a slip of the pen has delayed things by around FOUR months – that is awful.
    A lesson to all the rest of us – triple check every aspect of the forms, then get someone else to check.
    One of the firms we introduce people to is willing to do those checks for a modest fee, but nothing is totally proof against bureaucracy – try dealing with the Office of the Public Guardian!
    That said, things must be right, so they are correct to be picky – but there is no sound reason to penalise errors quite so dramatically,

  12. With regard to waiting an unbelievable length of time for probate to complete,solicitors are not always efficient .Probate have now taken six months to complete my father’s estate and say that delay has been due to the solicitors not furnishing enough information even after 2 requests to do so.I am still waiting have had to cancel a holiday and a request for a team leader to speak to me about the delay was met with you can expect a response in 20 days time.We do not need this ,the bereavement process does not need more hurt from so called officials who do not care about us.

  13. This is what you get if you contact the Registry direct (not too sure where they get the 8 weeks from – though it does very occasionally happen – add at least 4 weeks for an IHT400 for the Taxman to do his – or her – bit!):
    “Thanks for your email to the Probate team at HM Courts & Tribunals Service. This message is automatically generated; please do not reply.

    Due to COVID-19, we are currently experiencing an increased demand on our service. We will take longer to answer your call and to respond to your e-mail. Unfortunately, we cannot provide updates on case progression over the phone, e-mail and webchat.

    Probate applications currently take up to eight weeks to be fully processed from the date of receipt of your documentation. Please bear with us while we experience high demand on our service, we will contact you when we have reviewed your application. “

  14. We offered on a house through modern method auction back in Feb of this year, only to be informed AFTER we paid a very sizable (and non refundable) deposit that there was a grant of probate awaited by the acting executors who are also directors of the law firm dealing with the sale of the property.

    We took it in good faith that it had been applied for and were reassured by the auction company (I AM SOLD) that it would all be tied up in bows and complete in the agreed 56 day window.

    Well, that 56 days had been and gone and we are no closer to being able to proceed. We have sold our home and moved into temporary accommodation, of which we only have use of until the end of July. We are at a loss really about what to do, whether to cut our losses and buy a different house or to keep hanging on and hope that the grant of probate is approved in the next month.

    I check this forum almost weekly for updates. Thank you for providing some insight into the current delays, its been useful but equally frustrating to read of these circumstances, especially when its regarding loved ones. This process certainly needs some urgent attention!

  15. Comment from a non-lawyer friend: it rather sounds as if there might be an issue of non-disclosure. Might be worth checking with Trading Standards or your own lawyer.
    Thanks for the kind words – it is a very confusing situation.

  16. Hi
    I had an offer accepted on a property on 14/4/21. I was told probate had been submitted in Oct/Nov 2020. My house sold 25/6 and i am now in temporary very expensive accomodation as i can’t take out a 6 month rental due to being told it was on it’s way any day. It is now 5/7/21 – 13 weeks since the offer and 8 months since submission. Apparently the probate office lost a so called vital piece of information in Feb 2021 – the form with the ethnicity and sexual orientation which was needed to complete the process. This was then emailed to an officer 2 weeks ago who reassured the sellers, that on receipt (the Monday) by the Friday, the paperwork would follow. Now 2 weeks on, Nothing! So someone is telling porkies – estate agent (keep me hanging on), seller (to keep me hanging on), HMRC to appease the seller…who knows! But i’m out of pocket by considerable sums, my mental health is in tatters, and someone somewhere doesn’t actually give a damn!! I have now given myself one last week in this situation and then we will be officially homeless, even with money in the bank…all down to some disgusting bureaucrats hiding behind CV19!

  17. I applied for probate on 12/2/21. Very straightforward estate. There was a codicil to the will which I failed to confirm in the application via website, although included with all relevant paperwork. Statement of truth requested and returned on 31/5/21. Still waiting and it is impossible to get through on the 0300 303 0648. There seems to be no way of complaining about this dreadful service. Any suggestions welcome.

  18. Like the previous few comments, I’m finding the whole probate process to be dreadfully inept once it reaches the registry. We are waiting to purchase a property that is going through the process at the moment. Grant was submitted 4th May confirmed at the court on the 6th. A stopped was place on 16th June, and enquires answered the same day. Now we are just waiting in Limbo, the registry have confirmed they have everything they need and is now in the queue to be processed but refuse to detail how big this queue is and how long we will be waiting. Just a statement that it can be another 8 weeks to be looked at again from the 16th of June!

  19. We are in the process of buying a house that’s awaiting the grant of probate. The solicitor dealing with the probate has told the seller they can’t speak to anyone at the probate office and we all just have to wait. I’m really concerned by this because it’s been 16weeks since it was sent and we have no idea what’s happening. What if it’s been stopped? I assume no one would know unless the solicitor gets in touch, which they are refusing to do saying it’s not possible.
    One of the inheritances has now blown up at the solicitor who, in turn, is now refusing to deal with it at all whatsoever, where do we stand with this? We need them to call the probate office and check everything is ok as the seller can’t. We’re stuck in the middle and it’s really not fair, we’re concerned about missing the last stamp duty deadline as we’ve sailed past June’s already. We’ve been so patient and it’s gotten us nowhere. We’ve sold and moved out of our property after being told the process would be 12 weeks, 20 weeks ago. If no one calls the probate office then it will just stay like this forever, we are totally stuck. It’s such a flawed and terrible service, I can’t imagine what it must be like for the poor people that aren’t grieving also. Something needs to be done, it’s appalling. If we ever make it through this I will never but a probate property again, the most stressful and upsetting experience having no idea what’s going on.
    The seller told us approx a month ago that they had signed an updated statement of the probate registry, does anyone know what this means? Thanks I’m advance!

  20. It is indeed diffiuclt to speak to the Registry, and it may involve an hour or more ringing on a speakerphone while getting on with something else.
    The Registry will usually only speak to the solicitor, but the executors might well get a response if they explain the situation.
    Email is contactprobate @ justice.gov.uk (remove spaces) 0300 303 0648.
    The solicitor works for the executors, and whislt I am sure they are trying to save you money, they should do what the executors tell them.
    NO ONE other than the executors should contact the solcitors or the Registry.

  21. Margaret Buckton

    It is now 9 weeks since application and Will was confirmed as received by Probate. The estate is a simple one with no IHT due. The Executor has tried telephoning the number provided and after waiting on the line for 40 minutes gave up. Email sent to the address provided asking for an update on the progress of the application. There has been no response from that. I don’t want to be a nuisance but would like to know how much longer to wait and what action can now be taken to receive answers.

  22. We are also buying a house which is in probate and have been waiting over a year now after exchanging contracts in April 2020. We sold our house and have been in rented accommodation for the last 14 months. The Executor’s solicitors submitted the paperwork to HMCTS in January 2021. In March of this year (some 8 weeks later) a stop was put on the case. I am told that a simple query was answered promptly and the solicitors said that they expected the matter to be resolved before the first stamp duty holiday in March. This came and went, we chased again….nothing. The June stamp duty holiday came and went. The Executors then agreed to chase the probate office. They were told to expect a response within 1-2 weeks but the probate office said the case was ‘complex’….nothing again. We now hear that the probate office raised further questions to the solicitors earlier this month, but we don’t even know if these have been answered. What we don’t understand is why the Probate office didn’t raise all queries in March!

  23. I am sorry but we are not the Registry, nor associated with them.
    It is our understanding that 8 weeks from receipt is the earliest time they expect executors to chase, but the inner workings of the Registry are something of a mystery at the moment, which staff working from home and the inevitability that will cause some issues.
    In an extreme case of delay or hardship, I would suggest contacting your MP, but delays of far longer than 9 weeks are not uncommon at present.
    Sorry not to be more help!

  24. Our mum died in March 2020 just as the pandemic was starting to take hold. My sister and myself were unable to be with her when she died. We were allowed only a handful at her funeral and we have had no wake. On top of all this we had an inept solicitor who sat on my mums documents for 6 months without doing a thing (of course they blamed covid) and only the threat of the ombudsman finally got them shifting. February this year they sent off the documents to the probate registry. 6 months later and still we have heard nothing. Our solicitor says there is a backlog and that they only deal with these things in ‘strict date order’. Frankly I don’t believe our solicitor as they have lied to us more than once. They say that I cannot contact the probate registry for an update as they were the ones who submitted the application and therefore will not speak with us. Is this true? Almost 18 months since my mums passing this is still not sorted out. We find it difficult to move on. IT’s not like its a complicated estate, it’s literally a few thousand pounds. It’s not the money, it’s closure we want and these people don’t seem to get that. It amounts to psychological torture. IT’s been awful and I have often felt suicidal because of it all. Does anyone care? Certainly not solicitors or probate registries thats for sure. If I finally find I’ve had enough then I’m here to say that solicitors and probate must take a big part of the blame, as if they care

  25. I take it the estate does actually need a Grant of Probate?
    If the Registry has actually had the application for 6 months, without response, something is clearly wrong.
    Two things that I can think of could cause such a long delay:
    1) A “stop” – everything grinds to a halt if the Registry raise a question, until it is answered, but sometimes the questions don’t arrive with the people being questioned!
    2) Just occasionally, something gets lost in the system.

    The Registry prefer only to deal with the solicitors, but under the circumstances I am sure that the family executors could enquire, with an explanation – but do be careful not to make claims against third parties unless you can prove them, or you could end up in Court at VERY substantial cost as the defendant! It can be VERY expensive to keep chasing solicitors as most such chases may incur at least 4 units of time cost – 24 minutes, more if they actually raise a question with the Registry. Easy way to create massive extra costs with repeated chases, however necessary.

    Email is contactprobate @ justice.gov.uk or phone 0300 303 0648.
    You might want to try this: https://complain-about-a-court-or-tribunal.form.service.justice.gov.uk/ – I have no idea if it will work – please let me know!
    In terms of where is dealing with your case, it could be anywhere, and the only formal address is HMCTS Probate, PO Box 12625, Harlow CM20 9QE – hopefully, they would forward any letter to the correct place.
    Lastly, you could enlist the support of your MP.

  26. This is a mess! Apparently the seller was told over 2 weeks ago that the probate was issued (no sign of it yet of course). But last week he was told it was going over to quality assurance and that they would expedite it but still nothing !!! I am not sure if the seller is lying or if this is the accurate progress of cases (issue first quality assurance later) ?

  27. Unfortunately, there is no way of checking – only the executor/s or their lawyer is able to deal with the Reghistry.
    But they could copy any correspondence to you

  28. Hi, we are still waiting to hear about the probate for a house we are trying to complete on after exchanging contracts in April 2020. About a month ago the executors agreed to write to their MP to ask them to intervene…..no news as yet on that. The papers were lodged with HMCTS in early Jan 2021. According to the Executor’s solicitors a question was raised early March 2021 and was answered promptly however, the case has been on a ‘stop’ ever since. The solicitors were told by Probate last week that the case needed to go to a Senior to be agreed but there are very few people at this level who are able to progress the matter! We are at the end of our tether and have just written to our MP as the money we have lost renting a property while we wait is just unbearable. We just don’t know what else to do!

  29. Stephen, your advice and the posts of others on this site is very helpful….it would be good to know if anyone has had any success. Thank you

  30. My mother died in August 2020. I sent inheritance tax forms to tax office mid-Oct 2020.
    By February 2010, having heard nothing, I made an enquiry, only to be told that there was no record of my documents being received. I re-sent in February 2021 and have still not heard a thing.
    I did sent a query to to probate email address to ask whether I could apply for probate after all this time, without having heard from IT office (I don’t believe there is tax to be paid but it is a rather borderline case). That was 4 weeks ago and zero response. In the meantime, I am paying bills on my mother’s house and trying to keep it in good repair, on a tiny work pension and a reduced state pension (due to being a female who was born in the early 50s).

  31. As I understand it, you could have submitted your probate application 4 weeks after submitting the IHT400, to give time for HMRC to issue a tax reference number.
    Any earlier than that and the Probate Registry may not have access to the tax reference and the application could be sidelined.
    The Helpline for IHT is 0300 123 1072 (which is also where you get the forms from.

  32. Geraldine Webber

    I applied for probate (straightforward Will with no inheritance tax to pay) 13 weeks ago for my late Mother. I received the death certificate back quite quickly and later a tax rebate as she had paid too much tax. I am the only executor. I telephoned this morning and eventually got through on the number to make enquirers after 8 weeks. After being put on hold 4 times they found my application (which I posted) and said there had been an error on there part and to phone in a couple of days if I hadn’t heard from them. I then checked my email to see they had sent a generated email saying they had received the application and it would be dealt with within 8 weeks. Surely I don’t have to wait a further 8 weeks (in addition to the 13 weeks already!)

  33. Hopefully not – I would give it a few days, as I suspect the email you got was just a standard one.
    After that, I’m afraid it is back to ringing them again!

  34. Thanks Stephen for all your replies, it is all very informative and , much appreciated. We are going through a solicitor, (who is brilliant) so unable to contact the Probate Registry direct, we have waited 4 weeks for HMRC and now over 9 weeks at the Registry, the solicitor informed us a couple of weeks ago that the ‘Grant is ready to be issued’, does this mean it is imminent, as there is still no sign of it?

    Reply
    In theory it does!!
    But things are still a little unpredictable.
    Steve

  35. I am the executor Trustee and beneficiary of my mother’s will. She died 10 years ago. I didn’t know I had to take any action as my father was still alive and living in the property. They had joint bank accounts- no issues.The estate is worth less than £150k(value of house basically)
    They were tenants in common.Each with equal shares. My mother left her share to me. My father now wishes to sell the house to move to a smaller property. My mother’s will clearly states that ‘ at the occupants ( my father) request the trustees may sell the property and buy another to be held on trust on the same terms as the Property.
    We want to do this
    but do we have to apply for probate ,
    as the new property will be held on trust?

  36. There are two alternative scenarios here. I will deal with the most likely one first:

    1) Property Trust Wills – see https://www.homeprotectionplan.co.uk/protective-property-trusts-property-trust-wills
    With these, the half (typically – it may be any percentage) of the house that belonged to the deceased is placed in Trust via the Will.
    Probate IS required on the first death, for the Trustees named in the Will to be added at the Land Registry.
    No one actually inherits anything until the event which the Will sets as ending the Trust – typically, death of the survivor.

    2) Lifetime Trusts – property is moved into Trust or Trusts in lifetime.
    Whilst some work is needed on death, the Trust itself does not trigger a requirement for probate, and the property could be sold immediately.
    The idea is that once the property is not needed, the value is lent out to the beneficiaries, which has both Inheritance Tax and Asset protection benefits.

    As you know, we are probate brokers, so can recommend lawyers experienced in handling such matters should you wish it.

    Best wishes,

    Steve

  37. Many thanks for this prompt reply Steve. Really appreciated and easy to understand.
    Really like the way you operate this site.
    Cheers
    Ste

  38. I have applied for letters of administration for my late first cousin’s estate. (No will). The Estate is small around £16K. Heir hunters are also chasing the small estate but are well behind in their application but threatening to delay (presumably by applying themselves to create a stop. ) I rang the probate helpline today after 9 weeks from their receipt of the forms to find that the application has been stopped with no notification as it looks like a duplicate application has been put on the system by maladministration as I am the named applicant on the same estate on both claims. The recourse is now for an email to Newcastle to get them to ask me to withdraw a claim i havn’t submitted and god knows how long a simple estate will now take, especially if this gives the heir hunters time to stop the process again. Is there anything I can possibly do about this? Kind regards Amanda

  39. Hi Stephen, further to my earlier posts I am pleased to tell you that at the end of August grant of probate was received by the executors of the house we exchanged contracts on in April 2020 and we have now completed….finally! I suspect that this was due to the intervention of their MP as things started moving once they became involved. All that needed to be done in the end was for HMCTS to ask HMRC for the clearance certificate which was provided within a week of request. So….I would recommend your advice to others in this situation contact your MP. We missed out on the stamp duty holiday which was absolutely unnecessary and unforgiveable and no doubt due to the complete incompetence of the Probate Office.
    Thank you Stephen for your very helpful advice and good luck to everyone who is in this very unfortunate situation still awaiting good news.

  40. I think all you can do is comply, but point out that you are only withdrawing one application, not the other which they seem to have duplicated. Be aware this is general guidance not legal advice!!

  41. Is this a record? I completed my probate application on-line on Saturday 4 September, posted the will and renunciation form on Monday 6 September and this morning, 12 September, got an email telling me probate had been granted!

  42. So glad to find this site as am at the end of my tether.
    My mother died in January 2021. Our solicitor submitted the inheritance tax forms and 4 weeks later, on 18th May, submitted a paper application for grant of probate, sent to the a registry in Newcastle by recorded delivery post.
    Post tracking shows it was delivered on 19th May, but the solicitor has had no confirmation of receipt from the Registry. He submits many applications, and says that he never receives confirmation of receipt of paper copies, never is allocated a case number for paper applications, and never hears from the Registry again until Grant of Probate is issued.
    So we have been waiting 4 months with no confirmation of receipt or case number, and consequently have no way of tracking the progress of our application.
    The solicitor says he can’t track it by phone as he has no case number. He has emailed but there is no response.
    My business is suffering under Covid 19 and I urgently need this inheritance.
    Is there a point at which you recommend further action to chase my application? 6 months for example?
    Thank you so much.

  43. Hi Stephen, thanks for all your help so far.

    According to https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/, it seems like a probate has been granted months ago (date of probate:25 July 2021). However, our seller’s been saying that there was a stop on the case and they submitted additional documents and they’ve been waiting for the grant still. Is this even possible after having been granted the probate in July ? I do not know if I’m being overly skeptical or if we’re being lied to. Thanks in advance.

    Reply: Why not send them a copy of the grant and a request for an explanation? It is possible that the original grant needs to be modified with some unexpected discovery.

    Steve

  44. I’m glad I’ve found this very informative site. I don’t know whether to be worried or reassured that there are so many other people experiencing problems with the probate procedure.

    In my own case I’m dealing with my dad’s estate after he passed away in March this year. Very simple, no solicitors, no IHT, case reference number issued soon after I submitted the forms in May.

    Unfortunately even though the will had been dated the year had been left out. This was enough to put it on stop and contact details for the witnesses requested which I promptly provided. It then took ten weeks for witness statements to be sent out. HMCTS have confirmed the witness statements had been returned at the end of July and the will is awaiting amendment by a probate registra.

    The person I spoke to at HMCTS told me that there are only six probate registrars covering the whole of the UK so the will amendment process could take a long time.

    Seems like you just have to sit tight and wait.

    The beneficiaries named in the will are the same as would have been under the rules of intestacy so in retrospect I almost wish I hadn’t submitted the will. When I dealt with my mum’s estate a few years ago without a will the application sailed through in a couple of weeks.

  45. Hi, my husband passed away in December 2019 and still no probate grant. My late husband left his friend and niece as executors so I didn’t have the stress. I’m at my wits end. Can’t sleep through worry. We have 2 properties in Spain and 2 properties here in uk. I’m struggling to pay bills on these properties. The executors finally started the probate process April 2021. I have buyers for the properties in Spain but cannot sell yet as probate is still not granted. Nobody is giving me answers and I really don’t know what to do. I’m so stressed out. When I lost my husband I was only 49 years of age and never had such stress in my life. Any help or advice I would appreciate it.

  46. Without being unpleasant to the executors, there is not much you can do other than to offer to pay for professional help.
    Maybe they didn’t want the job, but they could potentially be in for serious personal penalties should there be any Inheritance Tax to pay.
    Are they dealing with both the UK and Spain? Did your husband have a Will in each, no Will or just a UK Will covering Spain?
    It does rather sound as if they might be very happy to either hand it over to professionals or get some paid support.
    Either way, let me know and I will find someone suitable to help.
    Steve

  47. My uncle died on 26th October 2020. He had no children or spouse and left his entire estate to me and my sister equally. The executors are three retired solicitors who were all partners in my uncle’s law firm many years ago. The executors appointed a local firm of solicitors to act on the administration of the Estate. The “lead” executor emailed me on 19th March 2021 to say “the process with the Revenue and the Probate Court is now underway”. On 3rd June the solicitors emailed the “lead” executor so say they were “hopeful” that Grant of Probate would be issued in the “not too distant future”. On 27th August the solicitors emailed me to say that they had on 24th August received confirmation from HMRC that IHT421 had been submitted to the Registry. On 21st September the solicitors emailed me giving exactly the same update that they gave on 27th August and saying they were “hopeful that the matter shall be concluded soon”. I emailed the solicitors last week asking them if HMCTS had confirmed that they had married the IHT421 with the Probate application but the solicitors have not replied: they and the executors have throughout this process adopted a “fortress executor” approach and the lead executor has even expressed irritation that I ask for occasional updates. We are now at 14th October, over 7 weeks since HMRC confirmation of IHT421 and we still have no Grant of Probate. Is there absolutely nothing that a beneficiary in my position can do to make something happen? It is now 7 months since the initial application was made. It is now only 12 days to the end of the Executors’ year.

  48. Hi, I just wondered if it is still taking the 8 weeks people have mentioned? We were told it was applied for in July, turns out the solicitors hadn’t actually applied for it until September, we are about 5 weeks from that date now and praying and crossing fingers.

    Many Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Font Resize