As of today, it will be mandatory for professional probate practitioners to submit probate applications online, subject to a few limited exceptions.
The online system, introduced last year, was designed to streamline the probate process, but the past few months have seen a rise in the number of applications submitted, coupled with a reduced workforce, leading to a backlog of applications and increased waiting times. There have been many reports in the media recently, like this one in The Telegraph, about families who have been waiting months for their inheritance.
In this particular case, the deceased did not have a Will and documents also had to be sent internationally, which aggravated the delays, and in another case reported in The Times recently, there was an issue with the signatures on the Will.
Whilst the move online should be a step in the right direction, it is more important than ever to have a carefully drafted Will, that is witnessed in the correct manner, to avoid the risk of unnecessary delays when dealing remotely with an organisation that is already stretched and understaffed.
Coronavirus has caused a backlog in the probate process leaving loved ones unable to claim inheritance from relatives with complicated cases, experts have warned. Chloe Billings’s mother died in January whilst she was on holiday visiting family in the Philippines but is still yet to complete probate on the estate. “Probate has been ongoing for almost 10 months. Her not having a will and dying abroad meant we didn’t have a direction to go down,” said Ms Billings.