Probate: Standards

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 1st December 2022.

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Photo of James Wild James Wild Conservative, North West Norfolk

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reasons the probate application service standard has been increased to 16 weeks.

Photo of James Wild James Wild Conservative, North West Norfolk

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent progress his Department has made on reducing the time it takes to process probate applications.

Photo of James Wild James Wild Conservative, North West Norfolk

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people are waiting more than 8 weeks for (a) the grant of probate and (b) letters of administration.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The service standard for a grant of probate has not been increased to 16 weeks but our messaging to applicants has changed to reflect the longer waiting times that a minority of cases can wait for their grant.

Despite the unprecedented challenges faced by the probate service during the Covid 19 pandemic, and the increased volume of applications that have been seen since, the average length of time taken for a grant of probate following receipt of the documents required has been maintained at between five and seven weeks – with the average responses being almost 1 week faster in quarter 2 of 2022 than the yearly average for 2020 and 2021.

HMCTS has increased resources to meet the higher demand following an increased number of estates requiring probate and is further increasing resourcing to further bring down overall timeliness on digital and paper applications.

Average waiting times for probate grants, from April 2022 to June 2022, are published on gov.uk via Family Court Statistics Quarterly (Table 25):

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/family-court-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2022

In June 2022, the average percentage of cases taking longer than 8 weeks to issue was 39%, with 27% of people waiting more than 8 weeks for the grant of Probate and 86% for letters of administration. Existing staff have now been trained to examine letters of administration applications to improve the timeliness.

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