Probate service has left us in limbo over my mother’s will

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My family is desperate to get probate for my mother’s will after applying in June. It is basic and the only issue was that she did not put a full date when she signed in 1990.

As requested by the probate office, we provided evidence of when it was completed. This was mislaid for eight weeks and there has been no attempt to expedite the case or provide updates.

A second-level complaint was raised six weeks ago and has not been replied to. It is now sitting at the Manchester office where it’s been for the last two months.

Covid aside, the service is appalling despite huge investment and extra staff.

MR, London

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Significant numbers of people share your limbo. Last month I reported on a five-month delay because the outsourced scanning service failed to scan a singe page of a will.

Until 2017 it took an average of two weeks to grant probate. Since then, reports that probate fees were to soar have triggered a surge in demand and a scheme to centralise and digitise the process has led to the closure of 18 registries and technological teething problems.

Covid 19 has exacerbated the backlog and a 12-week wait is normal. HM Courts & Tribunals Service blamed the delay on the missing date, ignoring the fact that this was addressed four months ago.

By a remarkable coincidence, it managed to issue probate the day after I got in touch. It says average waiting times have fallen to less than seven weeks and are less than five for online applications.

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