Why Is It Taking So Long For My Grant Of Probate To Be Issued?
Have you lodged an application for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration and wondered why you haven’t heard back for weeks, or even months?
Grant of Probate can be lengthy, and we appreciate that this can be frustrating.
So, we have analysed some available data to see if we can help identify and explain why probate can take so long to be granted.
Is Grant of Probate Taking Longer?
HM Courts and Tribunals (the Government department that processes Grant applications) have been collating data on this since 2012, and it is possible to compare their ‘performance’ year on year, which makes for interesting reading.
In 2022, 92% of applications submitted resulted in a Grant of Probate being issued.
2023 is forecasted for this to be as low as 86%, whereas looking back 10 years to 2013, 96% of grants applied for were issued.
Data is not available as to why applications submitted were not issued, which could be for a whole host of reasons.
Was the application withdrawn because it was subsequently established a Grant was not needed? Was the wrong person(s) applying? Was the Will invalid for some reason?
Digital v Paper Grant Of Probate Applications
With the world going more ‘online’ than ever before, HM Courts and Tribunals are embracing technology which now means the majority of Grant applications are made digitally.
This, we hoped(!), would speed up the time between Grant application and issue, but has not happened so far, and the trend for longer wait times is increasing.
By way of example, in June 2020, the average time between application and issue for a ‘digital’ Grant was 7 ½ weeks.
Compare that to June 2023, when the average time was almost 14 weeks.
HM Courts & Tribunals guidance at the start of this year stated that ‘Grants are usually issued within 8 weeks’. This guidance is now ’16 weeks’.
Not all applications can be made digitally, and HM Courts & Tribunals website will advise when the application must be made using either paper forms PA1A or PA1P.
On average, it takes longer for a Grant to be issued when making a ‘paper’ application.
In June 2021 it was taking on average, 10 weeks between the date of application and issue.
In June 2023, the average time was 21 weeks.
Will Instructing A Professional Speed Up The Probate Process?
Whilst the ability to apply for a Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration is open to all, there are benefits to instructing a professional to make your Grant application for you.
They can spot issues/potential problems which you may not have considered.
A professional can provide solutions, meaning that when the application is submitted, it is much less likely to be ‘stopped’ by the Registrar, who will then contact the executor/administrator to explain what they need in order for the application to proceed.
A ‘lay’ executor/administrator may then need professional assistance in order for the Grant application to proceed or can advise what the next steps are if, for example, a Caveat has been lodged with HM Courts & Tribunals, which prevents the Grant from being issued.
This can be frustrating and may mean your application will not be processed within the court’s guideline timescale.
In some estates, a full ‘Inheritance Tax account’ needs to be submitted to HM Revenue & Customs.
Part of this account includes form IHT421.
This form is sent by HM Revenue & Customs to HM Courts & Tribunals once the account has been provisionally checked and the correct amount of Inheritance Tax has been paid, where applicable.
HM Courts & Tribunals will advise that you cannot lodge the Grant application until 20 working days have passed after the Inheritance Tax account was sent to HM Revenue & Customs.
Form IHT421 is not always received by HM Courts & Tribunals within this timescale, and it is necessary, on occasion, to chase HM Revenue & Customs to find out why the form has not been sent.
This is commonly because the executor/administrator has incorrectly calculated the inheritance tax due and not paid enough tax, which may cause delays in the issuance of your grant.
Contact Bennett Griffin
If you would like advice or assistance with an application for a Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration, and/or Inheritance Tax forms, please contact our Private Client team, and we will be pleased to help.
Alternatively, you could also complete a form on our contact page, and a team member will get back to you shortly.