My uncle passed away 11 months ago, and my mother also passed away, leaving my brother and I to settle his estate. Ten months after applying for letters of administration, we are still awaiting approval. His house must be sold to pay off an equity loan within 12 months of his death. We are losing £ 1,000 a month in interest on the loan with no sign of a fix.
You are one of many grieving relatives caught in a ruinous legal limbo because of the probate delays. Last year, in an effort to streamline the system, the process was moved online and local courts were closed. Coupled with Covid and staff shortages, the result, for many, has been wait times of several months. At the same time, the government is proposing to increase probate fees to 137% next year, a move the Law Society says must be accompanied by improvements in services.
“In 2020, people had to wait 12 to 14 weeks on average to receive their scholarship. This is unacceptable, ”said Law Society President I Stephanie Boyce. “Our members also told us that since the online certification service was made available to all professional users in October 2019, they have encountered issues with the online system, communication issues with the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), errors on grants issued, and real estate transactions were affected due to delays in granting probate.
It is frustrating that the HMCTS was able to grant approval within two days of my contact. He told me that your mother’s death complicated the application and resulted in clerical errors. “We sincerely apologize for the delays which must have made a difficult period even more difficult,” he said.
He told the Observer that improvements to online service and staffing had reduced average wait times to just over two weeks. The Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman can deal with unresolved complaints about probate services, but applicants must be referred by their MP after they have exhausted the HMCTS process.
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