Probate scanning error stopped us selling my father's house


My father died in February. We submitted our probate application in June but was later told that one page of the will had not been uploaded by the scanning department which is, apparently, outsourced. That single page has yet to be scanned and our probate application has stalled as a result. The contractual relationship between the probate office and the scanning provider does not appear fit for purpose, as there seems no method to escalate or expedite when its performance falls short. We accepted an offer on my father’s house yesterday. We need a grant of probate to exchange.
ST, Guildford, Surrey

The probate service has been in disarray since last year when a proposed increase in probate fees prompted a sudden surge in applications, at the same time as a scheme to centralise the service closed 18 sub-registries. The result was a huge backlog and a waiting time of months, rather than weeks. Just as the service was getting on top of things, the pandemic struck. As of this month, all applications must be submitted online and it is this changeover that appears to have prompted your saga – since January, all paper applications have had to be scanned in bulk so that they, too, can be processed online.

HM Courts and Tribunals (HMCT) told me that waiting times have fallen to less than seven weeks, and that it is working with its scanning contractor to address problems. “Scanning issues affect a small minority of the thousands of grants issued every week,” it says. Your probate was granted the same day that I contacted HMCT.

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