The court service received around 500 extra probate applications per week in August than in the period before coronavirus, it revealed today as legal advisers are brought in to keep waiting times down.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service received approximately 5,700 applications for grants of probate per week last month, according to figures seen by the Gazette, 500 more per week than before the pandemic.
Legal advisers have now been diverted to probate and, as of this week, will be issuing grants to boost capacity if deemed necessary.
HMCTS told the Law Society that applications had not jumped as sharply as expected, and that resources had been well deployed. It added that its capacity is increasing week on week.
However, those applying for probate grants still complain of long waiting times and administrative errors. One lay applicant told the Gazette that the probate service says it will not respond to any request for information about an application until two months after it is received because of coronavirus issues.
Online probate applications also remain unpopular with solicitors. According to figures published by the Ministry of Justice, just 34% of probate applications submitted between April and June were made digitally, in spite of the lockdown.
According to HMCTS, the majority of personal applications are now coming through digitally and takeup by practitioners has increased.
The government has proposed changing the rules to make it mandatory for solicitors and other probate practitioners to use the online process. In a consultation published in August, the MoJ said it is ‘clear the process has to modernise’ and online applications would speed up processing times.
The government is currently reviewing responses to the consultation, which closed on 10 September.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.