Delays with probate. Families suffering the consequences. Unfortunately, this is not a new story. A plan to increase probate fees was first mooted in 2017, and then dropped. It was revived again in November 2018, only to be scrapped again in October 2019. However, the prospect of monumental fee increases led to a spike in probate applications, creating a backlog at the Probate Registry.

Just when it seemed that the backlog was clearing Covid-19, sadly, led to another increase in probate applications. Around this time the government also overhauled the probate application process, moving to an online application system and centralising all probate enquiries. Far from making the process more efficient and streamlined, this has led to further substantial delays. An application process that used to take an average 2-3 weeks is now taking 8 weeks or more.

As this article points out, the effect is families being put under financial stress as assets remain frozen pending probate. There is no sign that the delays going to reduce any time soon, and so for those having to go through the probate process the advice is clear: start the process as soon as possible and if the estate is complicated seek legal advice.