While the higher probate tax is on indefinite hold at least for now, the digital scheme it was supposed to help fund is still chaotic. The Register blew the cover on October 30, 2019, as the disgraceful treatment of mourners continued unabated.
That’s because closing out a dear-departed person’s will has always been an important step down the road to accepting what has happened, and moving on.
However, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service seems oblivious to the chaotic state of what appears to be an ill-conceived system. Or perhaps officialdom simply does not care about the chaos continuing since April 2019.
A Cacophony of Silence Leaving People in Pain
The new system was supposed to speed up probate application processing, and therefore completion of wills. The idea was good, what with some inheritors on financial tenterhooks and facing financial ruin due to delays.
However, the Courts and Tribunals Service unfortunately clogged the works up with an abnormally number of probate applications during the parliamentary impasse over new, higher fees that are since shelved. As a result, we now have a new IT system which is barely limping through a massive backlog evidence suggests it cannot accommodate.
Excuses may be good enough for bureaucrats in their digital ivory towers. However, the backlog has grown from ‘up to four weeks’ to considerably longer since then. It’s pity we can’t have two streams. One for the wealthy hoping to dodge the higher rates and one for ordinary people, the government is supposed to serve.
Real Life Examples of Chaos Courtesy of The Register
A customer told The Register the online service was advertised as taking ten days to process grants of probate, and wills. However they complained of it taking 45 days and longer.
They had not received any explanations for this, and were in the dark regarding how long their applications will take. Instead, they received canned replies reminiscent of a farmyard if you know what I mean.
Another complainant has had their application in the pipeline since 2018, yet still does not know when Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service will get around to attending to it. We understand that all’s fair in love and government computers. It might be fairer to the public to reinstate the previous system though.
A third solicitor remarked that older applications appeared to be slowing down, as a result of recent applications apparently receiving priority. “We still await grants where the application was made in the summer. We have also seen an increase in errors that require the return of the grant so it can be corrected and reissued.”
Law Society Sees Light At the End of the Tunnel
Law Society president Simon Davis told The Register “Over the past several months, the delays to probate grant applications have caused undue stress for grieving families.
“We are relieved to hear these delays are starting to ease, and will continue to work with the Courts and Tribunals Service to reduce the backlogs, and create a probate service fit for the 21st century.
As far as we are aware the old system worked well for the first 18 years of the 21st century. If the Service were a private company it could have have withered in the face of competition years ago.