By Legal Futures Associate Tower Street Finance
Probate delays are still causing real issues for families waiting to receive an inheritance.
The new online systems and centralisation of probate offices, which one would imagine were designed to speed things up, have far from had the desired results. The effects of Covid also continue to contribute to the long waits, leading to some people feeling desperate and helpless.
A recent story of a niece who applied for probate on her late aunt’s estate in September last year highlighted the issue. Seven months after sending the probate application to her local registry office nothing had progressed and the central phone number for probate enquiries was impossible to get through to.
The aunt had left a life-changing amount which her great nephews and nieces were banking on for university and training courses, but suspecting the paperwork had been lost, there was nothing they could do to get hold of their inheritance.
To understand exactly what our customers are facing we decided to put the centralised helpline to the test…
The first attempt resulted in being immediately cut off. Second attempt – selected the option for a probate application ‘made less than eight weeks ago’ and was told updates can’t be given on these cases – cut off again.
So we tried the option for probate applications ‘made more than eight weeks ago’ and again was advised no help was available and given a new number to call.
After trying various options which bore no fruit, being cut off several more times, advised to use the web chat option (which wasn’t available) and 30 minutes of listening to ‘sympathetic’ music we gave up.
At a sensitive time when people need help and advice from a human, this service appears less than ideal.
Tower Street Finance’s business development director Dicky Davies says: “Delays in the probate process have been an issue for a long time now and it doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon. The less than helpful options for contact which are available, or not as the case may be, don’t help families who have suffered a bereavement and are relying on an inheritance.
“Our products are designed to help people in this situation. In this instance the beneficiaries wanted to use their inheritance to fund education costs, and our own research shows that this is the case for 15 per cent of people who are left something. Our Inheritance Advance product would help them get up to 60 per cent of their inheritance early and it can be used for any reason, with the loan only repaid once probate has been granted, and no personal liability.
“In the niece’s situation, there were several beneficiaries who could all be eligible for help individually or together. One of the great nieces was also an executor to the will and described the process as ‘like a nightmare’ because she was feeling guilty, and responsible for the other beneficiaries.
“Also, if there was an IHT liability for the executor we could have also helped speed up the process with an IHT Loan, which again comes with no personal liability and is repaid by the estate.”
To find out more about partnering with Tower Street Finance and for more about how our products can help your clients call 0343 504 7100 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org