Applying for Probate Online in the UK: How to Avoid Delays

Applying for Probate Online

There are several different things that need to be done when a loved one passes away. If you have been left in charge of executing the will, you will already know that one of those things is obtaining probate. This can be tricky for many reasons; however, one of the main ones is that there are several different circumstances that can lead to delays. Throughout this article, we will discuss the probate process in more detail and provide information on how to effectively avoid delays.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person. This means that you will be responsible for organising their money, as well as their possessions and assets, before distributing them as an inheritance (once you have settled all liabilities and taxes of said deceased person). If the deceased has left a Will, it will likely name the person they would like to be in charge of administering their estate. This person is known as the executor, and it will be up to them to obtain a grant of probate.

What is a Grant of Probate?

Before starting the process, the executor will need to apply for a grant of probate. This legal document will give them the authority necessary to deal with the property and other assets of the deceased. As soon as all of the debts and taxes have been paid, the inheritance will be passed on, and once this is done, probate ends.

Applying for Probate

The probate process is relatively simple in theory, especially if you work with online organisations that will assist in obtaining said probate. The basic process includes the following steps:

  • Gather all of the details of the estates, assets and debts
  • Apply for the initial grant of probate (which will give you permission to administer the estate and pass out all of the inheritance)
  • Complete a tax return for inheritance tax and then pay off any of the tax which is due
  • You should then receive your grant of probate
  • Once you have your grant you will be in a position to repay the outstanding debts of the deceased
  • Distribute the rest of the estate as per the conditions laid out in the will

How Long Does Probate Take?

The process as a whole will usually take about a year; however, this all depends on the size and complexity of the deceased’s estate. International probate is relatively complicated, and then there are also often disputes which arise between the executor, creditors and beneficiaries. These (amongst other things) can lead to delays in the overall process.

Recent Delays in the Probate Service

Delays have become more frequent recently, much to many people’s annoyance. Some of the main reasons behind these delays are that, throughout the past 18 months or so, the way the probate service operates has been changing so it can better suit the needs of its users. These changes include creating a new style of probate certificate and allowing legal professionals to access an online probate service for 24 hours every day.

Whilst these changes sound good, as of this year, there has been an increase in the delays experienced by people applying for probate. This is thanks to a migration to a new back-office system, resulting in the loss of several days worth of working time.

Staff need to learn how to use the new system, and there has been an increase in the number of people applying for probate. There has been about a 50% increase in requests, which has led to delays across the country.

Current Waiting Times

The delays mean that the waiting time for a grant of probate is longer than people are used to. HMCTS has confirmed that these times are roughly six to eight weeks. However, there are exceptions to this rule, with several applications taking even longer than that. These delays can be attributed to missing documents, procedural defects or the need for further information.

What Can You Do to Avoid Delays?

If you need to apply for probate and want to limit these delays as much as possible, then you will be happy knowing you can do plenty to avoid them. HMCTS is working hard to limit the backlog and has provided advice for people to follow that might help them reduce waiting times and subsequent delays in grants as much as possible. Some of these include:

  • Ensuring that you are providing the form for inheritance tax when you initially submit your application
  • Double-checking all the different names that are on the application form to check that they are the same as the names in the will
  • Ensure the executors are accounted for
  • Making sure the statement of truth is signed
  • Making sure all of the different forms are signed
  • Sending the correct fee

Do You Need Help Applying for Probate?

If you are trying to apply for probate and need some help, then you will be happy to know that at Probates Online, we can assist over the internet. Simply reach out, and our team of experts will be able to help you move forward in a way that will avoid delays. If you have any questions or require further information, do not hesitate to get in touch.