Probate Registries in England and Wales are currently reporting severe delays on Grant of Probate and Grant of Letter of Administration applications. Due to the rollout of a new IT case management system, the process has been dramatically slowed down. This means that it’s taking longer for the Registries to process applications for Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration.
The delays are causing issues for Executors, Administrators and estate administration providers as they cannot progress the administration of an estate without the Grant. A Grant of Probate or Grant of Letter of Administration gives an Executor or Administrator the authority to act in the administration of a deceased person’s estate. As an example, the Grant enables the Executor or Administrator to sell a property in the sole name of the deceased.
At Kings Court Trust, we are being proactive and trying to do everything we can to lessen the impact of the delays on the families who entrust us to take care of their estate administration. We have visited one of the Probate Registries to understand the situation and we will be keeping in constant communication with them as to progress with our Grant applications that we have submitted to them. We have also begun lobbying the Ministry of Justice and the Chief Executive of HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) urging them to take this matter seriously.
The new IT software was reportedly installed at the end of March 2019 in readiness of digitising and centralising the Grant application process later this year. It was at the same time that the recently proposed changes to probate fees were due to be implemented. With this in mind, there has been an unprecedented amount of applications made to avoid the new probate fee applying; thus contributing to the backlogs caused by the introduction of the IT software.
The government’s plan is to replace the current flat fee of £215 for individuals (or £155 for professional bodies) with a new, banded structure of fees. Prices would range from a £250 fee for estates worth £50,000-£300,000 to £6,000 fee for estates valued at more than £2million. There is as yet no implementation for this.
Additionally, the plan is to close local Probate Registries and move the work to just one central location. The ten regional Probate Registries that remain will supposedly scale back operations before shutting down for good. The probate services are then expected to operate out of Birmingham’s Courts and Tribunals Service Centre and all applications will be made online.
We remain committed to providing our families and business partners with updates as to the backlogs as and when we receive them.
Kings Court Trust are estate administration specialists and our legal and tax teams have the expertise to advise on any situation. If you have any questions about the estate administration process, call our Client Services Team on 0300 303 9000 or click here to get in touch.