There are continued concerns over the lengthy delays bereaved families are experiencing when it comes to processing probate applications.
It therefore comes as welcome news that the Justice Committee has launched a new inquiry into the HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) probate registry performance.
The inquiry will be taking into consideration evidence on capacity, resources and delays across the probate service; the impact of digitisation and centralisation – including the effectiveness of the online probate portal.
There are fundamental questions that need to be addressed through this consultation, primarily – is the probate service properly processing applications in a timely manner and why are the delays so lengthy?
Crucially, people’s experiences of applying for probate will also be examined, including how executors and bereaved are supported through the process and protected from rogue traders.
Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill (Con, Bromley & Chislehurst), said:
“Concerns over probate have risen sharply over the last five years, with the waiting time for probate almost doubling in the last financial year alone. It is right the Justice Committee examine the reasons behind this, the consequences and takes evidence on the issues of capacity and resourcing.”
Have your say
The Justice Committee are inviting responses to inform their consultation, this includes sharing people’s experience of probate and how they have been supported through the process.
Written submissions must be sent by 22 January 2024, full information can be found here.
The probate registry maintains that it is working towards reducing unprocessed applications, and it anticipates that the average wait time for grants should fall to 8 weeks by March 2024 (compared with 14 weeks between April and June 2023).
It is hoped that the consultation, supported with the efforts of HMCTS to provide additional resource and set publicised targets to reduce the backlog, will indeed reduce wait times and bring some much called for relief for the many families impacted by the ongoing delays.
Proposal to increase probate fees
As part of a wider consultation on increases to selected court and tribunal fees launched on 10 November, HMCTS is proposing to increase the fee for a grant of probate from £273 to £300 for estates valued over £5,000 and will continue to increase the fee every two years.
How M+A Partners can help
M+A Partners are able to help with the process of applying for probate, completing the Inheritance Tax return, calculating the Inheritance Tax liability and administering the estate.
Our experienced probate team ensure the application is accurate and complete from the outset. This avoids delays further down the line – by minimising the risk in HMCTS putting a probate application on stop due to missing or deficient information.
For any concerns over the current delays to issuing grants of probate, please get in touch with one of our experts.