Probate delays cause stress and financial loss
By Law News
Severe delays in probate processing, reported by CILEX, result in client stress and financial setbacks
In a concerning development, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) has highlighted the detrimental impact of severe delays in the probate process, leading to increased stress and financial losses for bereaved individuals.
The waiting time for probate has nearly doubled from April 2022 to April 2023, prompting CILEX members to express their concerns about the negative repercussions faced by their clients. This extended waiting period not only compounds the emotional strain on the bereaved but also triggers financial problems arising from the delays.
CILEX, responding to a call for evidence from the Justice Select Committee, underscores a critical issue - the lack of adequate resources hindering the Probate Service. According to CILEX, the Probate Service currently lacks the necessary resources, capabilities, and expertise to process applications, especially complex ones, in a timely manner.
The impact on CILEX lawyers is evident, with their professional relationships with clients being negatively affected. A survey of 189 CILEX practitioners revealed that 61% doubted the protection and support provided to beneficiaries, executors, and the bereaved during the probate process.
Property sales are particularly affected, with transactions falling through due to delays in obtaining grants. This not only hampers clients' access to necessary funds but also affects lawyers' ability to charge their fees promptly.
CILEX suggests that improving staff resourcing, with individuals possessing the technical and legal knowledge to handle complex applications, is crucial. Members advocate for reopening district probate registries with qualified staff, streamlined procedures, and enhanced online communication for progress tracking and inquiries.
However, only 38% of respondents actively supported the idea that technological development could improve the Probate Service. CILEX emphasizes that, without effective implementation and adequate staffing, technology alone may not guarantee an improved process.
CILEX President Emma Davies stressed the urgency of addressing staffing issues, stating that the lack of sufficient personnel with the right capacity, training, and experience is at the core of the problem. Without addressing these resource challenges, improvements in probate waiting times may remain elusive.