Sharp rise in probate cases taking longer than a year
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A Freedom of Information request has revealed the number of probate cases taking more than a year to be granted rose by 65 per cent over the past three years.

The request, submitted to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) by financial services firm Quilter, additionally found the number of cases taking just under two years to resolve had also risen by 65 per cent in the same timescale, while the number of cases taking more than six months to be granted had climbed by 112 per cent.

The government says it aims to supply grants of probate within 16 weeks of application.

Warning of the effect probate delays can have on grieving families, Shaun Moore, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, said: “It is natural that more complex estates will take longer for probate to be granted, but the increases in wait times across the board is cause for concern.”

“With probate wait times soaring, the emotional toll intensifies. Despite there being an increase in the number of people submitting their paperwork digitally it is clear that HMRC is struggling to keep up with the workload causing these longer wait times.”

To avoid delays, Mr Moore recommended individuals make sure their financial affairs are as organised as possible.

“This can include simple things such as utilising trusts during someone’s lifetime, moving assets out of the estate so that they’re not part of the probate process. For example, you can place life insurance policies in trust. Upon death, the life insurance benefits are paid to the trustees and can be distributed, prior to probate, as per the terms of the trust.”

People should also consider lifetime gifts, he added: “This not only removes an asset from your estate for probate purposes, but a gift made seven years prior to your passing may also help reduce any Inheritance tax liability.”

Earlier this month the MoJ confirmed the standard probate fee will increase by 10 per cent to £300 from May 2024.

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