The government has drawn in extra staff to deal with a surge in probate requests, as the number of applications coming in overtakes the number being issued.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service told the Law Society today that it has stepped up efforts to deal with grants of probate in the wake of the pandemic. Existing HMCTS employees have been retrained to handle applications and new staff members have been hired.
According to government figures, applications are typically being turned around within five to six weeks, with 4,329 grants issued last week.
In a meeting with the Law Society and other legal organisations, HMCTS confirmed that – following a lockdown dip – it is now receiving more applications per week than it is issuing. However, it said it is confident standards will be maintained.
Probate applications were at half their normal levels in mid-May, as solicitors struggled to gain access to offices to collect wills. A surge in applications due to Covid-19 deaths, as well as a demand from lawyers who have been unable to work as they normally would, is expected over the summer.
Meanwhile, around a fifth of applications from solicitors are now made online compared with a third from lay applicants. The Law Society’s Private Client Section is due to host a webinar about online probate applications on Wednesday.
*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.