Probate changes set to cause chaos for grieving families

If you are left as the administrator or executor in a Will after someone has passed away, you may have to apply for probate in order to deal with the person’s estate and possessions. Probate is a legal document that gives you authority over the deceased person’s estate.

Plans have recently come into effect to close a number of regional probate offices in order to house all probate registries under one roof.

The plans are part of a wider modernisation programme to upgrade the courts and tribunals service. Ministers insist the service will improve through bringing together shared expertise.

However probate specialists, such as solicitors at Howells, are concerned about the lack of face to face contact for clients and that they will losing the ability to build a relationship with a remote office in Birmingham. Not only this but the speed of service could be affected if the process is moved under one roof.

The speed of service of probate registries in the UK have already been under fire recently due to the rush of applications into offices in order to take control of estates amid fears of a hike in probate fees.

Proposals to create a banded structure for the probate fee, based on the size of the estates, are due to take effect resulting in estates worth £2m or more would pay £6,000 instead of £155.

Grieving families are currently facing delays of up to 12 weeks to get control of their loved ones’ finances as Britain’s probate system goes into meltdown.

Registry offices are also struggling with an IT system launched in January, and there have been glitches with a new digital application process. The previous system had a waiting time of only ten working days.