Delays are main frustration for probate solicitors

1 Dec 2020

Article from Today's Wills & Probate

Research conducted by Movewise has demonstrated that probate solicitors are outlining delays as one of their main causes of frustration.

Inefficiencies and hold-ups by government bodies were highlighted as the ‘major frustration’ by 87% of those surveyed, some of which have undoubtedly been as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the sector continues to adapt to the ‘new normal’.

Movewise revealed in their report that, the Head of Probate at one firm described the delays as “shocking“, adding “grant of probate used to take four weeks….now it takes four months.”

The point of the survey was to discover what challenges probate professionals were experiencing in the current climate, with research being conducted in September 2020.

The key findings of the research include:

  • More than 80% of solicitors considered “achieving maximum value for the estate a priority
  • Three quarters of respondents cited “completing the probate process quickly” as important or very important
  • 87% of solicitors said that delays by government bodies had a significant or moderately significant impact on their work.
  • 63% said they were similarly affected by errors by government bodies
  • Challenges related to property sales were less problematic than government red tape but were still noted as important by 37% of solicitors.
  • Areas identified included vacant property management, unrealistic value expectations by beneficiaries, and administrative hassle.

Tom Scarborough, founder of Movewise, who was feeling frustrated by his own experience selling property, believes that while it may not be possible to hasten bureaucracy, there are areas of probate where out-sourced expertise could support and speed up elements of the process.

“Our research demonstrates that solicitors face a great deal of bureaucracy and inefficiency in many areas of probate from different government departments – and these are difficult to resolve. However, when it comes to managing multiple properties across different areas of the country – solicitors do have options which could speed up the process. Allowing a specialist team like Movewise to manage the sales process frees legal teams up for legal work, safe in the knowledge that property experts are working to deliver a quick sale with maximum value to the estate.”

The Movewise research was conducted against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected all areas of life in 2020. The probate sector has been no exception; despite a sharp rise in excess deaths due to the pandemic, numbers of probate applications fell significantly during the “first wave” in spring and summer. This suggests that a significant backlog of cases is likely to remain for a considerable time.

Article by Jennifer van Deursen at Today's Wills & Probate.

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