There have been a number of excellent articles published recently surrounding the question of "hopeless" contested probate cases. The current concern is that the rise of such work is causing legal departments, or indeed entire firms, to be set up specifically to cater for low-value, weak cases which might be inclined to settle out of court.
It has been suggested that similar to the rise of the personal injury claim as a mainstay for UK legal practices in recent years, contested probate is now experiencing the same boom. The hackneyed PI slogan of "where there's blame, there's a claim" seems to have transferred itself to family members of anyone with even a modest estate as a go-to right when they feel aggrieved by the contents of a Will – "where there's an estate, you can litigate" if you will.
The Law Gazette reports that applications for grants of probate fell by around 50% during coronavirus lockdown. With probate solicitors unable to get into offices to access physical Wills and relatives unable to retrieve required documents from relatives' homes, the number of applications typically seen at this time of year dropped sharply. However, Her Majesty's Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) has said it anticipates a surge in applications once lockdown measures are fully eased.
Anecdotal evidence from probate solicitors suggests there are still considerable delays at hand in acquiring probate: the average time frame for grant of probate appears to be around three months, with some solicitors still waiting for grants on applications sent five months ago.
Here we take a look at several probate application issues which are currently significant.
As lockdown measures finally ease, it is hoped that the economy can start on the road to something resembling recovery. For many businesses, however, the impact of coronavirus is likely to be far-reaching and will extend much further than mere lost time.
While construction contractors who have faced delays and/or increased costs due to the lockdown are likely to be reviewing their entitlement to relief under their existing contracts, it would be wise for the industry as a whole to swiftly begin the process of looking forward. This will undoubtedly mean considering how the risks of COVID-19, and perhaps further pandemics, can be addressed in future contracts.
The current worldwide issue relating to coronavirus has led to a surge in people wishing to create or amend their Will. While a sharp spike in mortality rates and lockdown measures mean that the usual structure of services following a death are not necessarily all in place.
Fortunately, for clients of those law firms already embracing digital technologies and remote working systems, there should be only minimal disruption. As long as homes continue to be served with power, broadband and telephone lines, solicitors should be able to carry on largely as normal and clients should be able to receive most aspects of the usual Wills and probate legal service. Many Wills and probate solicitors are able to take instruction over the phone and via video conferencing facilities, and there are many methods available for safe handling of sensitive documents.
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of lockdown measures on 23 March 2020, separated parents and their children were left in the position of trying to negotiate a new and complicated landscape in which they were uncertain of their rights in relation to child visitation and other important matters.
However, even a close reading of the initial lockdown measures failed to provide much in the way of useful clarification. They told us that we were only allowed to leave our homes for the following reasons:
As you can see, this summary of the key points held little to nothing in the way of guidance for what to do in the case of children of separated families who might normally move between homes. Such uncertainty had the potential to prove problematic for the children of separated families, particularly as routine is typically thought to be essential to their emotional and psychological wellbeing.