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Problems with the probate website

Discussion in 'Wills and probate' started by CarolB08, Feb 7, 2022.

  1. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    I can now sign-in but my expired orders are still not visible. I have sent so many emails to them and now I have just about run out of patience.
  2. Vio

    Vio LostCousins Member

    Oh what a long thread, so apologies for not reading every single message but the earlier ones seemed to be different problems.

    Someone's already mentioned the jumbled order of pages - they aren't in alphabetical order, or date of probate, or date of death, as far as I can see.

    My main problem is not being able to see the whole document, whatever browser I use (tried Chrome, Opera and Edge) and however I zoom out with the website buttons and with my browser settings. I cannot see the top of the page. Grrr.

    Also there is no indication of which page of the search results you're on. But as the pages aren't in any order, the page numbers are no use anyway. I have a lot of Smiths to look for, and I used to just jump into a likely page based on the first name. Now I have to wade through the whole lot, with no idea of how far I am through the 92 or whatever number of images are there.

    The last time I used this service in 2021 it was really easy to search to find out if there was probate/a will, and if not, cross them off the list.

    I have a couple of orders for less common names that were easier to find, so fingers crossed the order system is working OK.
  3. Stephen L

    Stephen L LostCousins Member

    To get around these problem I suggest you use Ancestry or FindMyPast for searching the probate calendars then use the probate website only for ordering.

    If the probate registry was London or the Principal Registry when ordering for some years you need to give a folio number that was handwritten onto the calendar pages. Ancestry images do not have folio numbers. But that is not a major issue at present as it seems to be impossible to order a will with a folio number because of a different probate website problem.
  4. Vio

    Vio LostCousins Member

    Thanks Stephen L. That is what I'll have to do. A shame as it's free to search on Find a Will, and as I don't currently have an Ancestry or FMP sub, it means a trip to the public library. At least there is an alternative!

    Was it an IT person's bright idea to 'improve' the Find a Will website or is there a software glitch or some major reason for changing a website that has worked perfectly well in recent years (only started to use it in the last few years).

    Another concern is that I ordered two wills but have not had an email confirmation, although there was a confirmation on the screen. However I can't recall if they emailed a confirmation when I ordered last year, so not sure whether this is anything to be worried about.
  5. Stephen L

    Stephen L LostCousins Member

    I suggest you choose FMP if you can. Browsing is easier if that is what you want to do and folio numbers where they exist are available.

    There were email confirmations of orders last year but not any more. You should get an email with the subject line "[HMCTS] Order Completed" when the wills are available to download.
  6. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    My guess is that there were security issues that they won't admit to, otherwise they would surely have kept the old site running until the new one was in a better state.
  7. Stephen L

    Stephen L LostCousins Member

    That problem still exists but when I tried a search including surname, year and first name the result went straight to the correct page to display an image I have been unable to get to in recent weeks. So direct searches may be possible without having to use FMP first. The next page and previous page buttons have returned but they just produce random jumps, so FMP is still needed for browsing.

    I have had an email about payment problems.

    We are sorry to hear about your issues with paying for your orders.

    We are aware that the issue is with our payment provider Barclaycard who are having a few issues at present.

    They are currently aware of the situation and are looking to fix the issue as quickly as possible.

    We believe the error to be intermittent so you may find that placing another order will process the payment as normal.

    Although they claim it is an intermittent problem it still seems to be to be associated with placing an order that needs a folio number.
  8. Vio

    Vio LostCousins Member

    I now have the two wills I ordered, but there was no email to alert me. I just looked at the website again to check 'My orders' and there they were in the download list. With no expiry date given.
  9. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    I've just ordered two items, neither with a folio number, and was expecting the same as Vio described. But no, there were two big differences.

    After filling in the name and year and doing "save and continue", now I get a page headed "Advanced search", with boxes for the full dates of death and probate. Another "save and continue" button here produces one page with both the post-1996 "digital search results" and, below, what it now calls the "image search results" for older wills. There's a bit of text explaining each half, the top one starting: "These are available when a will, grant or probate was issued after 1st January 1996." So in fact there's no point adding the extra data for older wills - they are not even used to pre-fill the right-hand side box for the probate you've found from an image.

    And now there is an immediate confirmation e-mail again, but it includes a link to access an invoice, which you can download as a pdf. This is very brief: just the order number and date, and for each item the name and date of death, and cost. So there is now a record, though for me that's going to be less convenient than the e-mails were to search if I want to check up on past orders.

    I also checked my active orders page, which now shows these new items. It still shows several items of my last order as "documents pending", though I was sent them attached to an e-mail outside normal processing. Presumably they have abandoned those but there is no obvious best way to deal with them now.

    The ones that were delivered by the normal process do have "available until" dates (all in the past), the active (i.e. not fulfilled) ones don't. And while I was looking at that page just now, the delivered ones all got moved to the "expired orders" page. What is odd is that that only happened after I had looked at the list several times today, but only on the last occasion did I look at page 2 of the list - maybe that triggered the transfer?

    Also odd is that the list was showing eleven items on page one, but "Showing 0 to 10 of 12 results" at the bottom. Of course that would be right if the numbers ran 0 to 11, but would make sense only to those with programming experience. But putting "Showing 10 to 12 of 12 results" under page two with only one item in it is just wrong. Now, after that transfer, there are five active items (four on page 1 and one on page2), and seven expired ones (split six and one). But it still says "Showing 0 to 10 of 12 results" under page 1 of each list, and "Showing 10 to 12 of 12 results" under each page 2!

    It's getting harder and harder to believe there's a team of professional programmers working on this, isn't it? More like one kid on job experience with inadequate supervision.
  10. PhilGee

    PhilGee LostCousins Member

    You missed the requirement to be a "mobile phone addict" or have they not yet progressed to nice little touch screen rectangles :rolleyes:o_O
  11. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    The new format does have annoying quirks. I was looking for an older will, and typed in the surname and year, and the site said there are no pages matching that data. I didn't trust it so instead I typed in just the first three letters of the surname and the same year - now there are 5 pages returned, and yes the surname I was looking for is present on one of those pages. So clearly there is some sort of indexing issue. And if you are not aware of that, then you would assume that there is no will which matches your search, which is not good!
    Different issue - I ordered several wills a month ago, two arrived quickly, all the rest are just sitting there marked "documents pending". Is anyone else getting very long waiting times for orders at the moment?
  12. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    In the latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine there is a letter from a reader complaining about the site. The magazine asked the Ministry of Justice for a comment, and they replied:

    "We understand the frustration users have experienced and thank them for their patience. We are working on a range of further enhancements to improve the service."

    Possibly the most ludicrous statement from the British government since Neville Chamberlain's "peace in our time" speech.
  13. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    I put in an order for two items (both folio-numberless) on 30th April. This is what happened; several things have changed in the last month or so.

    There was an immediate confirmation, which now says:
    That link leads to a page that leads to a page with a "Download this file to your device" button. And eventually you get a pdf, which just lists the items by name and date of death and cost. That's better than nothing, but less easy to use as a record of orders than the old e-mails were.

    Then on 5 May I got an "order fulfilled" e-mail, quoting the order number and name and date of death of one item. Looking at my account, both items appear as if ready, though for the other one only the will appears when clicked for. The grant does not. Four hours later I got the same e-mail again! Nothing has changed since; that grant is still not available.

    Now that the missing file is for an administration listed as "grant with will". In the past I have never got a will for one of those, just the grant. In this case the grant would be useful to have - the will was written forty years before death on a scrap of paper, so was there an argument about its validity?

    On my account page, I see the probate numbers have gone. Now all items have just the same long order number, which starts with the year and has grown an extra digit since last time. Hence the use of the name and date of death, no doubt.

    And there's more evidence of very amateurish programming. Every time I first sign in and look at "My Orders", all eleven are on the "active orders" frame, split over two subframes. And yes, they are still mixing up base-0 and base-1 counts, and showing the same count for both frames, even the one with no items!

    However, most of the items have expired, as indicated by their "Available Until" date. It stays like that until I visit subframe 2 of either frame, and then suddenly the expired items move to the "Expired Orders" frame. But the counts at the foot of the frame are still for all 11 (or 12), and show subframes 1 and 2. And it actually shows one item in each subframe 2, though we know a single subframe could hold all the items!

    Maybe that job trainee finished their time and went back to college, and they got a new one who is not even halfway through Programming 101.
  14. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    Well, I put in my order on 1st April, and I have the receipt email confirming that. Still waiting for the wills to appear on the site.
    I have sent them a "What's happening?" email but a week later all I have had back is the auto-generated email saying they have received it ....
  15. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    If the will was written 40 years earlier, then it is possible that the executors(s) had died or were unable to act, or maybe, being on a scrap of paper, no executors were named. In these circumstances an administrator has to be appointed, so you get a grant of administration with will. See this thread which explains further.
  16. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    I did complain about my missing grant file, but not until 25th May. And today - within a week - I got a message saying they had found it, and I downloaded it. That isn't so bad, and shows they do have people able to perform searches. Now if only they could find someone to do a couple of days work on the software!

    I already knew his will was written a few days after he married in 1901, leaving everything to his new wife who would be executrix, and she died in 1945 and he in 1958. The grant told me nothing more, it just said it in due legal wording. No hint of why he'd not written a new will after her death, nor before that to provide suitably for their three children (his wife had made a will). But at least I now know I've got all there is.

    Mind you, my Dad always said he had no need to change his wartime soldier's will, even sixty years later! I did finally manage to convince him to do a new one a couple of years after Mum died (he could be very obstinate). Sadly, when I went back to the local solicitors I'd got lined up to talk to him, they'd gone bust - rather spectacularly: it was due to a partner absconding to South America with a client's money!

    Now, if the NPRC can find that grant, should I try to reactivate my complaints about previous missing wills? These were two cases of "administration with will", of which only one page of grant was delivered. Neither complaint got answered, but as this was during the early stages of Covid I let is lapse. Presumably the same general e-mail address should work, provided I have got all the relevant reference numbers and dates to quote in my message.

    One is particularly interesting: Ann Allen died in 1886 and the grant makes reference to the Married Women's Property Act of 1882. It says the will was written before the act, but not signed until the day before her death, and appointed no executors. The grant was "limited to all such personal estate as she had a right to dispose of and had in and by her will disposed ..." The text stops there, mid-sentence, without naming their daughter Adeline as administrator.
  17. JoyNor

    JoyNor LostCousins Member

    Has anyone received any wills they ordered in the past 6 weeks? I had no problems getting onto the site, ordering and paying for one will in mid May but so far zilch! I did get an emailed link to a receipt but beyond that nothing. It is just listed as a "Pending" item. And none of my expired wills are showing but that is a minor issue as I keep a list on a spreadsheet anyway.

    I sent feedback a couple of weeks ago to which I got a generic reply

    Dear Customer
    Thank you for your email.
    We're currently experiencing a high volume of queries which may result in a delayed response regarding your order. We are working to resolve this and aim to respond to you as soon as possible.
    Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
    This is an automated message. Please do not reply.

    and have since messaged via the "Help" option a couple of times but received no response. Just glad I only orderd the one item. The other four wills I now want to obtain will just have to stay on MY back burner, with the money staying in MY account.

    In contrast last week I sent a request for a 1782 will from Borthwick, got a response within 24 hours advising of cost and an order form link. BUT they very helpfully informed me the record I had pinpointed was not complete and merely had the name of the person who had been granted admon. They even gave me the admon name (the widow of the deceased and so at least I know she outlived her husband, as I have not found a death date for her) and were happy for me to withdraw my order and not pay. In less than 48 hours the whole application was done and dusted.
  18. JoyNor

    JoyNor LostCousins Member

    And finally today I get a message from the helpdesk saying they have checked my account and that the documents ARE available - well they were not there at 11:30pm last night. Then 10 minutes later another automated "Order Fulfilled" message saying the will and grant I applied for are now available. Rest assured I have downloaded them PDQ in case they vanish off the face of the earth. All seems complete. Everything comes to she who waits . . . and waits . . . and waits . . . .
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. JoyNor

    JoyNor LostCousins Member

    Yesterday I placed an order for another 2 wills. Finding one was straightforward, finding the second despite filling in all the boxes with the correct information (name, dates etc) was tortuous. Finally by deleting all the optional boxes & changing the probate date to the year of death the correct page appeared - dated as the year I had been inputting in the first instance as the date of probate already verified from the page image on Ancestry. Sigh!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2022
  20. JoyNor

    JoyNor LostCousins Member

    Nil desperandum! LOL!

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