We have experienced significant delays with the probate service since 2018 when the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposed to increase probate fees. The proposals led to an increase in applications following uncertainty around the suggested new fee structure.
Delays were further exacerbated by the pandemic.
Combined with it becoming mandatory in September 2020, to use the online service for grants of probate applications by professional users, with exceptions for more specialised applications, this resulted in increasing delays to the probate service with members suggesting these were often going beyond eight weeks before receiving the grant.
HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) are taking measures to reduce the time between submission of applications and receipt of the grant.
From 1st January 2022, the Inheritance Tax (Delivery of Accounts) (Excepted Estates) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 come into force.
The regulations change the Tax reporting requirements for excepted estates: these are estates below the current inheritance tax (IHT) threshold available at the time of the deceased death.
This regulation confirms that Executors / Administrators for a person living in the UK with an excepted estate, who dies on or after 1 January 2022, no longer need to complete the Tax forms IHT205 or IHT217 (where applicable). They must however keep a record of the assets and liabilities of the estate as HMCTS will have 60 days instead of 35 days from the issue of the grant to ask for additional information.
The application for probate must contain details of the following:-
- the net value of the estate for IHT purposes
- the gross value of the estate for IHT purposes
- the net qualifying value of the estate
In addition to this, from 26th January 2022, the costs of applying for probate have increased to a single fee of £273 for profession-al and non-professional probate applicants, regardless of the size of the estate.
The main reasons for this are to remove the discrepancy between professional and non-professional applicants for probate, ensure all users should pay the same fee for the same service, ensure that the fee recovers the cost of delivering the probate service and protect access to justice by ensuring that courts and tribunals are adequately resourced, while reducing the overall taxpayer subsidy for HMCTS.
We wait to see whether these changes will assist in reducing the delays or worsen it.
Please speak to our Miss Natalie Thomas if you wish to discuss this further