Computer software problems at probate registries across England and Wales are causing long delays to people trying to obtain grants of probate and letters of administration.

Applications for probate are usually processed within 10 days, but solicitors and their clients have been left facing delays of four to eight weeks.

The Ministry of Justice explained to the Law Society Gazette that the delays were the result of the transition to a new IT system, which was installed at the end of March.

There is speculation that the situation is being exacerbated by the forthcoming hike in probate fees, which has reportedly led to an influx of applications from people keen to avoid the increases.

Delays in obtaining grants of probate cause real stress for bereaved families and frustration for solicitors who want to help clients and provide a good service but are being hampered in their efforts.

The MoJ is no doubt working to resolve the issues and presumably their new software will assist the smooth-running of the service in future, but that is small comfort to those currently facing long waits for grants of probate and letters of administration.