Applications for grants of probate have fallen by 50% since lockdown began, with solicitors unable to access offices to collect wills, the government has revealed to the Law Society.
HM Courts & Tribunals Service usually receives between 5,000 and 6,000 applications a week, but numbers have halved since lockdown was enforced in March. This trend has been seen in both personal and solicitor applications.
In a meeting with the Law Society, HMCTS said it was ‘fully aware’ that there will be a surge in applications due to Covid-19 deaths, as well as a demand from legal professionals who have been unable to work as they normally would. Grants are believed to have fallen because solicitors cannot access offices to get physical wills and clients cannot access the deceased’s paperwork.
To combat the expected surge, HMCTS staff members who previously dealt with court hearings have been trained to deal with probate applications. The government is also considering further recruitment to deal with the expected surge.
Meanwhile, the new probate application form for solicitors which HMCTS introduced in March has proved unpopular, with just 50 out of 2000 applications arriving in the new format. HMCTS still intends to reject old-style statements of truth from next Monday, however. The Law Society hopes to release guidance about the new application form by the end of this week.