George Hay Chartered Accountants were one of the first accountancy firms in the country to obtain a licence to carry out non-contentious probate work. In our monthly column, we give you an insight into the process and provide an update on what is happening in the world of probate and estates.

 It is disappointing, for the second month running, to have to write about delays; this time, definitely with the Probate Office.

Last year, the Probate Service set up a new online application system, designed to make the process of obtaining a Grant of Probate easier.

At time of writing, it is more of a hybrid system, with some forms completed on paper; for example, a paper copy of the original Will still has to be provided.

Unfortunately, even with all the ‘efficiencies’ being implemented, the time delays that we are experiencing are unacceptable.

In one case, we submitted the application during March and towards the end of April we received an email from the Probate Office saying they could not accept the application as only one of the Executors had completed it.

As clear as the sky is blue, it was obvious that both Executors had in fact signed the application and within 24 hours, we responded.

Last week, we chased. We were asked to confirm date on which we had replied as if it was less than 8 weeks ago, they would not take the call.

The lady at the Probate Office confirmed she had our reply dated 22nd April. When asked if she was now happy with our application, we were told she could not comment as she was only confirming she had it, not remarking on its content.

She was, at the time, dealing with February responses and it would be unfair to ‘queue jump’.

Once the Probate Office raises a question, the case in question is marked as “stopped”.

The latest quarterly statistics show that grants that were stopped, during January to March 2021, took 13 weeks on average to be issued, compared to five weeks for those that were not stopped.

Supposedly, they are working on it.

A fortnight ago, we received an email with another erroneous query on a different case. The email arrived at 11.00 am. We were told that if we responded by 3.00pm, it would be dealt with the same day but, if not, it would go into the unforgiving queue.

Fortunately, it arrived on a quiet day, and we were able to respond in time and save the client a four month wait.

In both cases, there is a property on the market ready to be sold, but the Executors cannot do so without probate.

Hopefully, the promise by the Probate Service to improve performance will be achieved.

We can assure our clients that any delays are not down to us.

To discuss our Probate & Estates services in more detail, contact Huntingdon-based Barry Jefferd on 01462 708810, or you can email us at where your enquiry will be dealt with by one of the team.

Authored by Director of GH Probate Ltd., Barry Jefferd.

Our Probate service is provided through GH Probate Limited. GH Probate is the trading style of GH Probate Limited. Registered in England and Wales number 9630102. Registered Office: St George’s House, George Street, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE29 3GH.

Authorised to carry out the reserved legal activity of non-contentious probate in England and Wales by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales

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