Probate Service update shows increase in digital applications and grants issued

The latest quarterly Family Court Statistics, detailing probate service figures for January to March 2021, have been published.

Figures show that there were 61,696 applications for probate grants, with 57,620 probate grants issued in the same period. Figures also show an increase in the proportion of digital applications and grants issued for probate with 77% of applications and 62% of grants issued being made digitally, compared to 22% of each in the same quarter in 2020.

There were 75,398 applications made for grants of representation in January to March 2021. Of these, 61,696 (82%) were for probate grants with 77% made digitally. Probate grants also made up the majority (78%) of all grants issued.

Figures show that 61% of the grants issued were applied for by legal professionals and 39% were personal applications.

Probate grants were issued faster than letters of administration with a will, but took a similar time to those without a will. Probate grants took approximately 8 weeks to be issued, with a median average of 4 weeks, after the application was submitted during January to March 2021. Letters of administration with a will and without a will took around 14 and 8 weeks respectively.

The Ministry of Justice reported that timeliness of grants issued can be affected if the case has been “stopped” for any reason, such as a dispute arising about either who can apply for probate or issues with a will or proposed will, or if an error is identified and a request for further information is made. Figures show that probate grants that were stopped during January to March 2021 took 13 weeks on average to be issued, compared to 5 weeks for those that were not stopped.

Additionally, when comparing time from document receipt (i.e. when payment has been made and the application and all accompanying documents have been scanned and are ready for examination) to grant issue, this is over 2 weeks quicker than the average time from application submission for probate grants.

Ian Bond, Head of Wills & Estates at Thursfields and member of The Law Society Wills & Equity Committee responded to the statistics on Twitter saying:

“Quarterly @HMCTSgovuk stats. 75,398 total grant applications made Jan to Mar 2021 (73,594 issued). 61,696 (82%) for grants of probate, of which 77% made digitally. 61% issued grants made to professionals. Probate takes 8 weeks, other 8-14 weeks to issue.”

The quarterly update may be viewed here

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