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Probate Registry cuts helpline access

Probate Registry cuts helpline access | Neil Shaw

The Probate Registry has confirmed that for the next few months it will reduce its helpline operational hours to stop at 1pm instead of the usual 5pm.

Personal law partner Neil Shaw explains why this has been done, what this means for you and what alternative resources are available.

Why has the probate helpline reduced its operational hours?

The reason given by the Probate Registry is that the staff operating the phone lines can be diverted to assist with the current caseload to reduce the backlog of active applications. Neil has previously gone into more detail on the registry’s ever increasing wait times in our article here.

This reduction in helpline availability appears to be one of many changes anticipated following the replacement of the Probate Registry’s management team. The UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Mike Freer has assured the public that there has been a ‘distinct improvement’ in recruitment, competency, productivity and call-handling since the takeover.

This change comes following probate waiting times more than doubling in the last three years.

What does this mean for you?

Around one third of estates require probate to be granted. Although reducing the number of hours that the helpline operates may have the intended positive effect on the productivity of the registry, it will likely only increase the stress for those who require questions to be answered or whose applications have been stopped without a clear reason.

In our experience, before this reduction in hours, callers could be on hold to the helpline anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. This is only likely to get worse as more callers are forced to join the queue in a shorter period.

This is often more than a simple inconvenience as many beneficiaries suffer financial hardship or see property sales fall through while waiting for the grant to be issued.

What alternative resources are available?

Executors have the alternative option of contacting the registry via email. Unfortunately, it is common for replies to take up to two months, which isn’t helpful for those people who require an urgent response.

Resources such as the website and the Martin Lewis website offer useful information to assist you before and after applying for probate. We also offer extensive information on probate which can be useful at any stage in the process.

However, the best way to proceed is to contact a probate professional. With no hidden fees, prompt communication and a no-obligation initial meeting, we’ll make things as easy as possible for you at what may be a difficult time.

If you or someone you know requires our probate services, please contact Neil Shaw, Head of Personal Law by emailing ku.oc1717057275.fcl@1717057275wahsn1717057275 or calling our office on 01274 386 992.

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Written by Neil Shaw