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At the beginning of 2019, the government announced a huge increase in the court fee for obtaining a grant of probate. This threat of a big increase in probate fees has significantly increased the time it takes to obtain a grant of probate, because people have rushed to beat the increase. The only reason the probate fees have not increased is because of the legislative traffic jam caused by Brexit. Will the new government instigate the fee increase in the new Parliament?

In line with the general efficiency drive across England’s entire justice system, there has been a huge drive to save costs, which has unfortunately led to a corresponding decline in quality of the court service. Highly qualified court staff have left, leaving a stuttering service which often makes mistakes. For the proactive, this need not be a problem with the use of an efficient and cost- effective adviser.

Helpfully the court service did allow the use of a more streamlined service, if you appoint a solicitor. Solicitors can act as a trusted resource to ease pressure on the government to beat the log jam. You no longer have to swear an oath in front of a commissioner oaths separate from the solicitor you instruct. Thus, if your estate is not taxable, you simply swear a statement and sign the correct form to submit to an allocated fast track probate registry for solicitor applications.

If your estate is taxable then you run the gauntlet with HMRC, who have also suffered cutbacks in their qualified staff. You must prepare the required tax form very carefully to ensure that it is dealt with clearly. Then you need to guide HMRC carefully through any queries they have, since often the person dealing with your case is very inexperienced. Without the correct advice, you can be left with a significantly higher tax bill than is necessary.

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