Probate backlog update
HM Courts & Tribunals Service has issued a statement that sets out its plans to resolve the delay and backlog of Wills passing through probate.
During the pandemic, rising death rates, an increase in incomplete grant applications and challenges to usual working practices have all increased the pressure on the probate system. The service had already been struggling due to a surge in applications in spring 2019, as well as the introduction of a new case management system.
These pressures have created a bottleneck in terms of legacy notifications and funds. This has a significant impact on UK charities, many of which rely on gifts in Wills for over 30% of their annual voluntary income.
With 29,000 estates currently held in the system, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has been working collaboratively with the Institute of Legacy Management (ILM) and Remember A Charity to monitor and address the situation and its impact on the charity sector.
In their statement, published on 11 November, HMTCS announced several measures to address the backlog and minimise future delays. This includes taking on and training more staff, reducing the waiting time on digital applications and trialling a new digital notifications solution with Smee & Ford. Regular progress data on applications and grants will be published on a monthly basis via the HMCTS website.
ILM and Remember A Charity welcome the resolutions and the commitment of HMCTS to continue to collaborate, taking action to ensure that legacy income and notifications can be processed as swiftly as possible.
Matthew Lagden, CEO, Institute of Legacy Management, says:
“It has been a priority for ILM and Remember A Charity to work closely with HMCTS to keep our members informed, looking at the ways in which we can track and help to resolve delays, particularly during such a challenging year.
"We are delighted to see that HMCTS has expanded its probate team to help increase capacity, and that Smee & Ford’s digital service is speeding up the current process of notifications. These steps give us confidence that HMCTS has the capacity in place to deal with the backlog and the expected rise in applications through the winter.”
Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, says:
“Charitable income has been heavily hampered by the pandemic this year, making legacies all the more important in enabling charities to keep their frontline services going.
"HMCTS recognises how much the sector relies on gifts in Wills and we are hugely grateful for their continued commitment to work with us to resolve the backlog. This commitment not only helps charities to forecast future income, but to plan their vital services going forward."
ILM and Remember A Charity will continue to work closely with HMCTS and other partners to ensure that members and the charity sector are kept informed of further progress.