It is understandable that the current lockdown is having a significant impact on courts in Scotland and challenging for the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) to prioritise essential court proceedings.
However, there was welcome news last week when the SCTS advised that courts will resume processing commissary applications from 1 May, which are necessary to obtain Confirmation (the Scottish equivalent of Probate) when someone dies. Very limited progress has been made with any commissary business since the ‘lockdown’ was first announced on 23 March, which has been causing difficulties to some grieving families.
Confirmation granted by the relevant Sheriff Court is the Executor(s) formal legal authority to deal with the deceased’s assets and it is only after Confirmation is available that a deceased’s property or investments can be sold or transferred to a beneficiary. In many cases, it is not even possible to access funds in a deceased’s bank account until after Confirmation. Any additional delays in that process can therefore provide real hardship to those left behind, who may require access to their inheritance to meet urgent financial needs.
Even in normal circumstances, Sheriff Court processing times vary significantly throughout the country. Much of Murray Beith Murray’s work is through Edinburgh Sheriff Court, which was taking up to three months to grant Confirmation even before the lockdown. In contrast, other Sheriff Courts were dealing with commissary applications upon receipt.
When it was announced that commissary business will be resumed, SCTS added that “Due to significantly reduced staff resources commissary applications will take longer to be processed.”, so although work has recommenced delays will still prolong the estate administration process.
Murray Beith Murray have been trusted advisors to generations of families, sensitively helping those following the loss of a loved one. Our experienced and sympathetic executry service can advise executors, beneficiaries and others in relation to all aspects of Scottish Succession Law. Whatever the circumstances, we offer an effective service aimed at making the executry process run as smoothly as possible, no matter the size or complexity of the estate.
Our values of integrity, expertise and trust have underpinned our service since 1849 and these values continue to this day, as does our commitment to be here when you need us.