HM Courts and Tribunals Service have announced that Trust Corporations can now apply for probate grants following a revamp with the intention of improving the probate service before the proposed fee increase comes into effect. There will also be efforts to make the application process more straightforward in the form of new prompts that will clearly identify the title of the executor, including partners, members, shareholders and directors in a firm or successor firm.
What fee increases have been proposed?
The fee increase is expected to raise an additional yearly sum of £23 million - £25 million from 2022 for family jurisdiction services. The Ministry of Justice stressed that these increases will not create any governmental profit but rather reduce the financial burden to the taxpayer when it comes to the current Probate service - which is running at a loss, forcing the taxpayer to subsidise the costs.
The proposal introduces a flat fee of £273 for all applicants regardless of the size of the estate, and whether it be a probate professional or an individual applying for the grant, this comes as a 55% and 23% increase from the current fees of £155 and £215 for probate professionals and individuals respectively.
There have been concerns over the practicality of these increases, labelled as 'unjustifiable' by the Law Society, as there are still 'significant delays' in the service. According to recent figures, grants took an average of 7.6 weeks to be issued after a probate application was made in June 2021. With 61,696 probate grant applications made between January and March 2021, therefore there is a clear need for a more efficient process.
What is a Grant of Probate?
A Grant of Probate confirms an executor's authority to administer and access the deceased's estate. You may not need to apply for a grant of Probate if the deceased jointly owned assets with another person (in which case the ownership would have transferred to the surviving person) or where the estate is worth less than £10,000. Although, in most cases, you will need to apply for a grant of Probate whether there is a Will in place or not.
What can be done if there is no Will?
This is also known as intestate. If a person passes away without drawing up a Will, it can result in a lengthy and challenging process for their loved ones as there are no wishes of who will be the executor of their estate and no guidance on how their estate and assets will be divided.
This can lead to disputes among family members and loved ones, which can be very stressful during an already highly emotional time. We always advise our clients to have a Will drawn up for their own peace of mind and for the security of their estate.
Expert Probate Solicitors in Kent
If you are seeking legal advice about any Probate matters, or you are struggling to apply for a grant of Probate, please get in contact with our Probate Solicitors today, call us on 01795 472291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.