Delays in grants of probate will be over by the end of the year, HM Courts and Tribunals Service has said – after missing its November deadline. In a meeting with the Law Society, HMCTS said grants of probate currently take around four weeks to be issued, but the process should take just two weeks by Christmas. It is also working to clear stopped applications that are blocking the system. HMCTS previously said the system would be back to normal in November. 

HMCTS said solicitors and lay people should not contact local registries with probate queries. Instead, they should contact the Birmingham Courts and Tribunal Service Centre which can purportedly deal with all enquiries. From Monday, the Birmingham centre will be open from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, and from 8am-12pm on Saturdays.

HMCTS said it also hopes to introduce an online probate application in Welsh next year, and to issue bilingual Welsh/English grants.

Probate delays began in the spring, when a software glitch coincided with a spike in applications, as executors rushed to beat the probate fee hike which was due to be implemented in April. Solicitors subsequently reported delays of over three months.

According to HMCTS, 450 firms have now signed up to the online system which was rolled out to all practices in October.