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Collaborating is key to enhancing probate users’ experience of using MyHMCTS

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Court and tribunal reform, Digital services, Family, User experience and research

When someone close to us dies, applying for probate can be a daunting prospect at a difficult time and we know that a bad experience can add to an already stressful and sensitive situation.

Since October 2019 over 60,000 applications for grant of representation have been issued to probate practitioners using the digital service, MyHMCTS. Online applications allowed us to maintain our service during the pandemic.

But we know that our service could be improved, and that some applicants have experienced difficulties and delays. I want to outline our plans for these improvements and explain how we’ve used valuable feedback to make things better for our users.

Listening to feedback

We work closely with service users to understand what’s working well, what we could do better and be challenged on our performance. We’re part of the Probate Service User Group which gives us feedback from a range of charities and solicitors’ and accountants’ professional groups.

These professionals draw on real life experience to give us valuable feedback, so if you’re a member of one of these organisations, please keep sharing your feedback.

I asked Ian Bond, Head of Wills & Estates at Thursfields and member of the Professional Services User Group what working together meant for him and he told me:

The User Group has given us a valuable opportunity to share the real-life experiences of our members who, like me, use the service regularly. It’s really important that their voices are heard and their priorities for improvements are reflected in HMCTS’ future plans. I’d really urge practitioners to keep sharing their feedback with us, whether it’s an idea for how MyHMCTS could be improved or an issue with a delay.

Our feedback is helping HMCTS to identify trends and put in place solutions, for example my firm experienced the issues with multi-factor authentication. By raising it at the User Group meeting, we could circulate the advice on solving the issue quickly and raise awareness of who to contact at HMCTS for additional help with our members. That’s just one practical example of how working together can make a real difference to service users.

Person typing on laptop

Improving the service for users

In the year leading up to May 2021 we granted almost 300,000 applications from personal applicants and practitioners. Most applications proceed smoothly, but we know it’s frustrating if we have to stop a case and that it can lead to delays in applications being granted. It’s not something we do lightly, but we must follow the Non-Contentious Probate Rules when we process applications.

Cases are stopped for a variety of reasons, but the most common reasons include unexplained damage to wills or missing inheritance tax forms. We understand that delays cause anxiety at a difficult time for applicants, so we’ve allocated more staff to progress stopped cases and reduce the time they take to be resolved.

Speeding up applications

To reduce delays, we’ve updated MyHMCTS to make it clear that users should wait for 20 working days from submitting inheritance tax documents before applying for a grant. This gap ensures inheritance tax processes can be completed and we have all the information we need to grant applications without unnecessary delays.

Applying for probate and managing inheritance tax obligations can be intrinsically linked, so we’re working closely with HMRC to improve how we share information.

We’ve also released an improved application coversheet to provide practitioners with clear information on the documents that we need and also automated some processes to speed things up.

We know that some MyHMCTS users have experienced delays with the multi-factor authentication process that provides additional security for accounts. This is often because corporate firewalls block emails from If you are experiencing any delays, please contact for help on adding our email address to your safe senders list.

What we are doing next

In coming weeks we’re going to be making some more changes to MyHMCTS, including allowing Trust Corporations to apply for a grant online for the first time, following requests from users. Other changes we’ll be making include providing new prompts so that practitioners can clearly identify the title of the executor, including partners, members, shareholders and directors in a firm or successor firm.

To reduce potential delays, we will be providing prompts that provide clearer options to account for executors that are not applying for probate. Practitioners can also amend any part of an application before submitting, making the service easier and more convenient to use

We have improved title and clearing wording on the legal statement and practitioners can now sign them (including digitally) on behalf of clients and applying executors. Legal statements will also automatically contain the names of the applying executors and practitioners.

Finally, it will no longer be a requirement to send a death certificate of any pre-deceased executors.

To receive further information you can sign up to our weekly operations summary to be kept up to date on the improvements to the service.

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  1. Comment by Dennis posted on

    Why will you not let print this off for ref in thecfuture

    • Replies to Dennis>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Hi Dennis, thanks for your comment. Please can you let us know what you’re looking to print and we can try to advise?

  2. Comment by Ian Morgan posted on

    We have been waiting for literally months, for a number of Grants of Probate. This whole process should be investigated by a third party and improvements made as a matter of urgency. Given up trying to contact HMCTS, for any sort of updates.

    • Replies to Ian Morgan>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Hi Ian, thanks for your comment. We’re sorry to hear you’re still waiting for your grants to be issued and that you’ve had trouble contacting use. A member of our team has contacted you directly at the email provided to look into this.

  3. Comment by Ian Morgan posted on

    I have been contacted by a member of the team. Have now given them a list of the outstanding standing case. Hopefully it will not be too much longer before we receive a response.

  4. Comment by Stephen Jameson posted on

    There is a glitch with active fields on MYHMCTS Probate Applications which caught me out recently. When adding grant copies required which I did in this one particular case for a total of 6. As the field was active When I saved it, it reverted back to only one copy and this cannot be edited.

    I put in a cover letter saying please charge for the 5 copies. However, I believe this was ignored.

    • Replies to Stephen Jameson>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Thank you for raising this. We are aware of this issue and have passed your feedback onto the team to look into further.

  5. Comment by Stewart Milner posted on

    I am waiting for Grant of Probate for a property I placed an offer on in April, I have been advised that it is simple, yet I am unable to access any information as to why there is a delay.
    Estate Agents and Solicitors have no idea how long the process is going to take. Yet according to your Blog we have gone well past the standard time scale.
    Can I please get a straight forward answer to a straight forward question.

    • Replies to Stewart Milner>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Hi Stewart, we’re sorry to hear this. One of our team have contacted you at the email provided to find out more. We hope this helps.

  6. Comment by Sian Chilcott posted on

    I am waiting for Grant of Probate that was applied for on 4th March for property I'm purchasing.No complications,just delays.Latest update was it was "ready to be issued" on 4th Aug,still nothing.I've now had to have an extension on my mortgage offer and if it doesn't arrive in the next week or so I'll have to reapply for the mortgage from the beginning as it's over 6 months.Really poor communication and service from the Probate office

    • Replies to Sian Chilcott>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Hi Sian, thanks for raising this and we’re sorry to hear this. A member of the team has emailed you directly to find out more. We hope this helps.

  7. Comment by John OConnor posted on

    My solicitor has been extremely poor in completing and processing the required forms. He has given us no information whatsoever and we are not convinced he has sent the forms as promised. He keeps citing ‘portal problems’. Is there any way we can find out if he has actually started the online process? This has been going on for 2+ years!! As a result we are electing penalties and interest on tax due as a result of his incompetence. Please help.

    • Replies to John OConnor>

      Comment by HMCTS Communications posted on

      Hi John, we’re sorry to hear your solicitor is having issues with our online portal. We’ve contacted you via the email provided for more details. We hope this helps.