York lawyer warns of probate delays due to Covid-19

Photograph: Ryan Crotty / Unsplash
9 Jun 2020 @ 6.30 pm
| Family

A York lawyer has warned the recent drop in probate applications may mean executors face delays in the months ahead.

The Government’s Courts Service has reported that official applications to deal with the financial affairs of those who have died – known as probate – fell by over 50% during the lockdown. And they are concerned that there will be a large upsurge in probate applications as lockdown starts to ease.

Ed Ryder, partner at York-based Harrowells Solicitors, has warned that executors, who are often close family or friends of the deceased and tasked with sorting out their finances, are likely to face administrative hold-ups as the Courts Service battles to deal with the resultant increase in its workload.

Ed said: “Clearly there are a number of completely understandable reasons why probate applications have fallen recently.

“People may have been unable to visit properties to collect papers or they may feel that during the lockdown they have other priorities.”

He said it is really important for executors to understand what information needs to be reported to the Courts Service so that any requests for financial statements and valuations that are required can be sorted in good time.

“Dealing with bereavement is difficult at the best of times but, for executors, there are the additional concerns associated with the practical aspects and responsibility of putting someone’s wishes into effect.

“Being aware of potential administrative delays and planning ahead to reduce the frustrations they can cause will help ease pressure at what is already a difficult time.”