Decline in probate applications

The Law Society has stated that the government has revealed that the number of applications for grants of probate have fallen during lockdown. This has been for both personal and lawyer applications.

When lockdown is removed there is likely to be a surge due to the drop, and due to Covid-19 deaths. Despite the decrease in applications, I personally have not seen applications being returned quicker. With the expected surge this is worrying, but HMCTS have stated that they are prepared for the surge and have retrained staff. The government has also stated that they are considering further recruitment to deal with the anticipated surge.

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.