Probate fee increases dropped but probate backlog continues

There was good news this week when it was announced that the awaited increase in probate fees had finally been scrapped.

Under new proposals, due to come into force earlier this year, probate fees would have increased to up to £6,000, depending on the value of the estate.  The current fee is £155 (or £215 if not applying through a Solicitor).

The new proposals were heavily criticised.  The new fees would have vastly exceeded the cost of providing the service and were considered to be an additional tax ‘through the back door’.

Whilst the announcement is welcomed, there is still a large backlog of probate applications.  The new fee proposals, coupled with a change in systems at probate registries in March of this year, have caused long delays in applicants receiving grants of representation.  Previously, applicants could expect to receive their grants within two weeks, whereas now the wait can be more than three months.  This has left families unable to sell property belonging to the deceased.  As a result they are losing potential buyers and are left unable to pay their Inheritance Tax bills on time.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has advised that they have increased resources and are reallocating applications between registries to try to clear the backlog.  Hopefully this will go some way to improving the situation so that those who have lost loved ones do not have this additional stress and worry at what is an already difficult time.

For any information or advice about applying for probate or regarding the administration of estates generally, please contact Pictons’ Wills and Probate department on 01582 878549 or email melissa.browning@pictons.co.uk

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