Probate registries have issued additional guidance to professionals completing the new PA1P and PA1A forms.

Officials warn that applications are being delayed because the name of the solicitor and firm lodging the application is missing. The registries in particular highlight Q1.20; where legal representative details have to be completed if the “Yes” box is ticked. Failure to do this creates an error when the forms are processed and delays cases being created.

Recent media stories have further highlighted ongoing delays at probate offices. Last weekend The Times raised the case of retired TV producer Christine Carter, who has been waiting for four months to receive a grant of probate to settle the affairs of her father, Frank, who died in September 2019.

According to the newspaper, Christine’s solicitor posted an application to the probate service on 18 February, although the service said her application wasn’t received until 16 April and also contained an error. Ms Carter added that she was not given an application number and that her solicitor was kept on hold for more than two hours on the phone line for legal professionals.

In March, a retired couple agreed to buy Frank’s house, but Christine fears the deal will now fall through as the potential buyers are at the top of a chain of three properties and delays might prove crucial.

Local probate offices have closed their doors to the public because of coronavirus, with staff social distancing or working from home and paperwork taking longer to process. Some offices are are also dealing with multiple areas with Newcastle covering Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough, and Cardiff taking on work from Bristol, Bodmin, Carmarthen and Exeter.

In a bid to accelerate processes, the probate registry has agreed to accept electronic signatures in some cases. In addition, where there questions regarding a will, the probate office has begun accepting signed statements of truth to take the place of affidavits, which have to be sworn in front of a solicitor.

While families have been told that their probate issues will be dealt with within eight weeks, executors have said this timescale is not being met, with the latest coronavirus-related delays following on the heels of issues that accompanied attempts to digitise many services last year.