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Coronavirus: how do I process probate applications?

7 April 2020: HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has warned practitioners that due to the pressures of COVID-19 there may be delays in the granting of probate and issued advice on how to ensure a smooth application process.

The past 12 months have seen delays in the granting of probate, and sadly as the death toll from COVID-19 rises the system is likely to be put under renewed pressure.  
HMCTS has reassured ICAEW Business Law that most of its staff can work from home but inevitably there will still be some delays and not all grants will be issued within the normal four-week timescale. They have also assured that they are looking at ways to speed up procedures generally. 
In the meantime, they have advised ICAEW of the following: 

For new applications by professional practitioners 

  1. Apply online using MyHMCTS: HMCTS strongly recommends you consider completing your probate applications online. This will enable them to be accessed remotely while staff may be working from home: Find out more
  2. Ensure only complete applications are submitted: Applications that do not have all the supporting documentation and forms take longer to complete as they have to be ‘stopped’ and then reopened. 

For existing applications by professional practitioners 

  1. Email queries rather than phone as they have had to reduce the number of people answering calls and the times when lines are open. 
  2. As Probate registries will not be conducting face to face interviews please do not attend in person.
  3. Probate registries will still be receiving post but again there may be delays due to staff shortages. 

New Grant of Representation Application Forms for professional practitioners  

HMCTS has launched new standard application forms for professional practitioners: 

  • PA1A (applying for grant of letters of administration) 
  • PA1P (applying for a grant of probate)
  • PA8A (applying for a caveat) 

View the forms 
These forms need to be completed in place of the Statement of Truth and lodged at the Probate Registries as usual. After a period, these forms will be sent to the Courts and Tribunal Service Centres. HMCTS will inform us of the change of address in due course.  
There will be a transition period of 4 weeks, during which Probate Registries will be permitted to accept any old-style Statements of Truth that come through. 
After 20th April 2020, any Statements of Truth that are received will be returned, with a request to replace them with the appropriate new form.  
If you would like further information or have any further feedback on the forms, please email probatefeedback@justice.gov.uk 

For individuals applying for probate

Please apply online where you can. See here for details on what to do if you are applying for probate and are not using a professional practitioner such as an ICAEW Probate Practitioner or a solicitor.