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The probate fiasco

View profile for Gemma  Baumber
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The Probate Fiasco

Earlier this year Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) changed the way they issue probate applications by introducing a new digital system. Shortly after the change had been implemented there was a technical error which caused delays in issuing probate applications. It is currently taking 6-8 weeks in relation to matters we are dealing with for grants to be issued.

The delay was exacerbated due to a sharp increase in the number of Probate applications being submitted. A probate fee increase was scheduled for 1st April 2019.  It was intended that probate fee applications would be charged on a sliding scale dependent upon the value of the estate. The proposed fee increase led to a large number of probate applications being submitted for issuing to benefit from the lower application fee and in the end the fee increase was not introduced on 1st April 2019.  It is quite possible the fee increase will be introduced in the future after the statutory instrument has been passed before Parliament. As of 22nd July 2019 HMCTS recently increased their charges for copies of Grants of Probate/Letters of Administration requested at the initial application stage from 50p per copy to £1.50 per copy.

In an attempt to try to reduce the backlog in processing probate applications HMCTS employed a number of strategies. A number of Probate Registries have reduced their availability during the day to answer telephone enquiries.

It would appear that the delays are now nearing an end as probate officials have said that they expect their service to return to normal at the end of the summer once they have finished working their way through the backlog of applications.

If you require any advice regarding an application for a Grant of Probate or any other aspect of estate administration then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client Team.