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Problems with the probate website

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

  1. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    I can't see that the boxes for extra search fields can do anything for pre-1996 probates. For the recent ones, those data items are in their database. For earlier ones, they only have the images for each year, and those are indexed by year of probate. I don't see any evidence they have captured the contents of the in digital form, though they might have a project to do that.

    So when the resurrected site appeared with the date on the first page labelled as "date of death" instead of probate, I was sceptical. (Though in fact I didn't at first notice!) I suggest assuming it's still date of probate we should enter here.
  2. JoyNor

    JoyNor Guest

    Back to fun (not) and games with FAW. I did not expect to hear anything about my latest order of 2 wills for at least a month. So surprise surprise - I logged in today to find one of the orders sitting there waiting for download. No notification that it was ready. However whilst the Grant downloaded with no problem the Will link lights up then refuses to budge an iota. Tried logging out and back in - no result. Needless to say I have complained - again! Watching that (empty) space.
  3. JoyNor

    JoyNor Guest

    Update. After giving further negative feedback today I got an emailed apology for the non-functioning download link and notification that the link had been sent again to my account. I then received two further emails - one for each of the wills I ordered notifying that they were both now available on my account for download. Logged in, yes they were there and all documents have now been downloaded to my PC successfully. However one of them shows no expiry date - but I care not! Talk about pulling teeth! Thankfully I don't think I shall require any further will copies in the near future. One of the wills runs to 10 pages - seems this ancestor was a man of property and owned large chunks of the area of Yorkshire where he resided. It is unfortunate that his father was the person whose will Borthwick could not supply - might have been quite an insight into where the family got their land.
  4. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    You may remember that I had an order for twelve items back in March that didn't work, and they were sent by e-mail. Three of those still show as "pending". The others did come through the system as well, before or after the e-mail, and they now show as expired.

    Mind you, all of them are in the "active orders" list when I first log on. The expired ones get moved to their proper list only after I've looked at it. And even then, it splits both lists over two pages based on which page items were on when in a single list! It's hard to guess what kind of inept coding would give that effect.

    I guess the implication is that when manual intervention is applied to get the files to you, the system's records may or may not be updated so show them as "fulfilled". Plus, of course, the whole system is a heap of ...
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    As a programmer I can easily work out why it was done that way - but I appreciate that someone from a different background might be mystified.
  6. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    Here's something new - and a bit more welcome than most of what's been discussed here. I just placed an order for two wills, and one of them became available to download within seconds (before I got the notification, in fact).

    I did wonder whether the images they were making for each order were also being added to a database. In fact, when you think about it, they must be. What I've just seen says they have now added a link from order processing to a search of this database, so they can deliver images with no human help. So now, if you order something that has already been delivered from this system your copy of it should come up at once.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 4
  7. AngelaC

    AngelaC LostCousins Member

    That's very interesting @Stuart .Perhaps I should have another go with the wills. I'd abandoned it after being unable to get anything with a Folio number - does anyone know if that part has been fixed?
  8. Stuart

    Stuart LostCousins Member

    That's a point - the will that was instantly available did have a folio number. If having one makes indexing wills easier, maybe they have started with those! Indexing is needed for automatic fulfillment.
  9. AngelaC

    AngelaC LostCousins Member

    Thanks @Stuart. If I can find my notes as to whose wills they were, I shall give them a go!
  10. Stephen L

    Stephen L LostCousins Member

    Do give yours a go and I hope you will get all you want from them.

    If those that are instantly available are those that have been purchased by someone else as Stuart has suggested they re probably a mixture of those with and without folio numbers. I bought one recently with a folio number that was available after a few days.

    The site all seems to be working exactly as it is supposed to do. Many of the posts here have been about delays in orders that were placed when the site had the various failures. Hopefully the back-log has cleared now.
  11. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    I have had two will arrive absolutely instantly. In both cases they were very recent - within the last three years. I guessed that all new wills received by the probate office are now being digitised as soon as they arrive.
    It would certainly also make sense that such a database would also have any older will added to it as soon as it is digitised for any reason.

    Other wills however are unfortunately still taking a very long time to arrive for me.
  12. JoyNor

    JoyNor Guest

    All three wills which I ordered and received (eventually) are now past their Available Until date, are marked as expired, but still listed in the Active Tab rather than having moved to the Expired Tab. No sign of any wills I ordered in the past being listed anywhere at all.
  13. Today I have made my first order since the website was 'upgraded' and received an email with a link to the invoice. I was expecting an email to tell me that my order had been received. Nothing had arrived after about 10 minutes so I logged back in to find out if there was somewhere that tells me when I can expect delivery. I found the My Orders tab had appeared and the order is in 'Documents pending' status. I assume I now sit back and wait for an email that advises my order is ready to download.
  14. JennieL

    JennieL LostCousins Member

    You should receive an email to tell you when your order is ready, but this isn’t 100% reliable. Newer wills are often delivered immediately through the new platform, but older wills take longer (often longer than they did through the old platform).
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  15. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    It would be useful if those who have used the probate site recently could summarise (on the forum) the current state of play and the workarounds they've used. I've deliberately avoided writing about the site in my newsletter since February as things seem to be changing all the time, but I think it would be useful to provide an update.

    With the appointment of a new cabinet it's also a good time to flag up issues like this that ministers can blame on their predecessors.
  16. JennieL

    JennieL LostCousins Member

    Hi Peter, some things have improved over the past few months, others remain frustratingly unsatisfactory. Recent wills are often delivered instantly, which is great. Older wills generally take a lot longer to be delivered than they did previously. I waited a month for two recently, and only got them when I chased them up. It was an improvement when they added a second download link on the right hand side of the order list (previously you had to use the same link first to get the probate and again to get the Will). It’s frustrating that expired wills don’t transfer to the separate tab they’ve set up for those, and some of my old pre-transfer orders are still on my order list (showing as not downloaded, and I can’t seem to trigger their removal by downloading them again). The most annoying thing though, especially given the long list of old wills in my order list, is that there’s no date on the order list and no option to sort by most recent. I think they order the wills by order number, which doesn’t necessarily mean the most recent will be either at the top or bottom. So, in summary, there have been a few big steps forward, but they still have a long way to go to bring the new platform up to scratch. Hope that helps.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  17. HelenB

    HelenB Member

    I agree with everything JennieL has said, but I would also add that my own most significant frustration is the search function on wills from any year prior to 1996. On the first page of the search you put in the first name and surname of the person you are looking for and their year of death. There is little point filling in the second page of details as these are not digitised for these pre-1996 records, but there is nothing at the top of the page to advise users of that. A really well designed site would detect that the year stated on page one makes page 2 irrelevant and would simply skip the user straight forward without presenting page 2.

    Anyway, having put in the name and year of death for the target person, I then want the search function to return the small number of pages which are relevant. Instead, one is presented with many dozens of pages, sometimes over a hundred, to tab through one by one. How those pages are selected to be presented is a complete mystery, and almost all will have nobody on them with the relevant surname. Sometimes none of the pages presented includes the target surname at all.

    For example I most recently looked for Florence Hurst who died in 1978. There are in fact two Florence Hurst's listed in 1978, but the search engine returns 76 pages that you have to tab through looking for surname Hurst. And of course the probate may not have been granted in the same year as the person died, so you will also likely need to look through 1979, for which the search engine presents you with another 82 pages, and 1980 which gives a further 85 pages to hunt through. I think this is possibly the worst search engine I have used anywhere in many years. Annoyingly, in the previous beta version of the site which was withdrawn some months ago, this type of searching worked very effectively! So this is a huge step backwards.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  18. JennieL

    JennieL LostCousins Member

    Oh yes, I forgot about the searching problems! For pre-1996 Wills I’ve given up using the Probate Registry search and usually search on Ancestry instead because of the problems Helen B outlines.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  19. Tim Powys-Lybbe

    Tim Powys-Lybbe New Member

    There are five problems I am aware of:

    First they don't appear to have any system to identify orders that have exceeded a reasonable time frame. A target date should be set by which each order should be fulfilled. If the target date is passed, they should list it on an internal report and let someone senior know the number or percentage or orders that have gone beyond their target date so that they can identify problems that need rectifying. Someone should then be investigating trends and trying to work out what the problems are and then, hopefully, resolving those.

    Second there should be a second target date by which the order must be actioned. Any order exceeding that date should be dealt with manually and resolved. Reports should be issued periodically for all us punters to see what the trends are.

    The third problem is when they think the order has been completed and have issued a message to tell us that both the grant and the will are available. I have continued to have cases of the grant appearing alright but the will does not appear. If I complain about this, they do do something and the will eventually appears. They will not admit that they had a problem so they never resolve this one.

    The fourth problem is that there is inadequate security for the entries we make into the basket. I have had many cases of putting several orders into one basket with the intention of reducing the number of purchase transactions. But by the time I come to actually order the wills the basket has vanished and I have to find which wills I had ordered in order to re-order them. The usual response to this report to them is nothing, no admission that they have a problem, no promise that they will deal with it and certainly no action to deal with the problem. I can only assume that they do not keep a system incident list and if they do, that no-one reads it or does anything about it.

    Finally we should be better informed. We need four displays: one showing wills in the basket with the entry date but not ordered (we do have this, losses apart), one showing wills ordered but not fulfilled and with the order date, one showing orders fulfilled and not downloaded and showing the fulfilment date and the third a list of orders downloaded and showing the download date. Then we can see what the progress is, what we should do and where we should be chasing them for action.

    My impression of this 'update' is that they did not write out a proper specification beforehand of what they wished to achieve. Further their database design does not seem to be designed: high quality relational databases can be extremely fast if they are well designed, ordered and indexed. Or are they doing all this on a spreadsheet?
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  20. I am impressed, my order was for a death that occurred on 22 Jun 2022. I have just received notification that downloads are ready, I now have them.

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