Less than 10 per cent of probate applications have been issued within the government’s target of 10 working days since delays began in spring 2019, a freedom of information request has revealed.

Following enquiries by The Law Society Gazette, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) stated that just 9 per cent of grants of probate have been issued within 10 working days since April last year.

The average time taken for grants issued in December was eight weeks, down from 10 weeks in the summer. Grants issued in December which were not held up by issues such as missing documents or errors took an average of five weeks to arrive, down from nine weeks in the summer.

According to the MoJ, applications from solicitors are currently being dealt with within 10 working days, although the Ministry has not said how long personal applications are currently taking to travel through the probate system.

The Gazette reports that since April 2019 the longest period of time between an application being submitted and a grant of probate being issued was 274 days. The MoJ said this application was delayed for “valid reasons” including the fact that relevant documents were not provided.

Probate delays began in spring last year, when software issues combined with a surge in applications caused by executors rushing to beat a much-publicised probate fee hike (which ultimately failed to materialise).