According to the Law Society Gazette, the Ministry of Justice plans to close local probate registries and move the work to just one central location in Birmingham. Currently, there are ten remaining regional probate registries in England and Wales and staff have reportedly been informed of plans to scale back operations and shut down the sites in due course.
Supposedly, the plan is to eventually move probate services to Birmingham’s Courts and Tribunals Service Centre. Members of staff at the Birmingham Probate Registry have reportedly been advised that their jobs could be affected, however, employees at the other locations are still awaiting more information.
The Law Society Gazette shared how “A spokesperson for HM Courts & Tribunals Service said that no staff have been put on notice of redundancy and the department is ‘working hard to ensure it stays that way’.”
The spokesperson added: “Courts and Tribunals Service Centres [CTSCs] are a key part of our £1 billion Reform Programme and will ensure we deliver better services for all court users. As we move work to the first two CTSCs, staff in existing centres will need to be moved into new roles. These changes will be gradual and our priority is to support employees throughout the process and help them find suitable, alternative roles.”
The anticipated closures come as part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) £1 billion Reform Programme which “aims to bring new technology and modern ways of working to the way justice is administered”.
With the recent expansion of the online probate application service, there should theoretically be less pressure on regional probate registries. This is due to the fact that the expansion aimed to make it simpler and easier to apply for a Grant of Probate online. The new system allows up to four joint Executors to apply, pay and swear a statement of truth online, reducing the need for Executors to visit a probate registry or solicitor’s office.
Applying for probate is just one small part of handling an individual’s affairs after they’ve passed away. This process is known as estate administration. The Executor(s) or Administrator must also deal with all their assets (including property, personal possessions, bank accounts and shares), paying any debts, Inheritance Tax and Income Tax, and transferring inheritance to the beneficiaries.
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.