Financial & Legal News

Probate delays blamed on a new computerised online system

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In January this year the Government introduced a new IT based online system for granting Probate, but this has now stalled and some clients have been waiting up to 3 months for the application to go through.

Probate — the legal authority to take control of someone's finances when they die - used to take up to 10 days to be granted by the court.  It was anticipated that the new system would speed this up making the application easier, as executors would not need to visit a probate registry to lodge documents and make declarations.  In the new system, an online declaration of truth is all that is required, with documents submitted online, and the originals posted for scanning.

However, since the process went online in January, the wait has become a long one for many families, forms have been submitted incorrectly and civil servants are no longer manually examining Wills to spot fakes and alternations and to ensure they meet legal requirements.

A rise in applications to beat an expected hike in fees may also have contributed to the delays.

Hannah Pearson, a specialist Probate solicitor, said:  “A Will is a significant legal document and in UK law it must be on paper, and signed in ink and it was inevitable there would be teething problems with any system.  There is no substitute for a well written Will done by a professional solicitor which then helps the ongoing Probate questions of authenticity and fraud.

“Unfortunately, the glitches in the Probate Registry’s new IT system, in conjunction with a spike in probate applications because everyone is trying to make their applications before the proposed increase in probate fees, has caused significant delays. This is extremely frustrating for bereaved families who understandably want to resolve the administration of their loved one’s estates as swiftly as possible”

At the moment, it costs £215 to apply, or £155 for solicitors. Under the new structure, fees will be linked to estate size. Those valued at more than £2m will be charged £6,000. The no Probate threshold would increase from £5,000 to £50,000.

Call Hannah Pearson, solicitor, on 0161 785 3500 for advice on Probate, the Administration of Estates, Wills and Inheritance Tax.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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