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UK Probate service in crisis: Inquiry demands change

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The latest analysis of Ministry of Justice data shows there’s been a 65% increase in year-long probate cases. The delays continue to cause significant emotional distress and financial losses for families who are already facing a difficult time in their lives.

An inquiry was launched by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee to look into the issues. Unfortunately, the committee was disbanded, and the inquiry suspended, when the General Election was called.

The inquiry has been halted, but the issues with the probate service haven’t gone anywhere.

We’re proud to have Accredited Lifetime Lawyers on our team who have undertaken additional training and qualifications to specialise in this area of the law. Together with The Association of Lifetime Lawyers we continue to highlight the issues with the probate service to demand better for our clients – now and beyond the election.

In place of a full report, committee chair, Sir Robert Neill KC MP, wrote to Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice, Mike Freer MP to highlight its findings.

We’ve summarised the recommendations for reform below.

Recommendations for Reform

The inquiry outlined several recommendations for a more effective probate system.

These include:

  • A public report detailing the reasons for the failures to prevent future issues.
  • Collaboration with relevant groups to tackle problems like empty homes and care home debt linked to probate delays.
  • Increased transparency through sharing more data on caseloads and processing times.
  • Regulating the will writing sector to protect consumers – many will writers aren’t currently regulated so it’s always safest to seek advice from a qualified lawyer.

The inquiry highlights the importance of a well-functioning probate system. It urges swift action to regain public trust and implement reforms that improve the probate process for everyone involved. These changes are vital to ensure minimal distress and financial loss for grieving families going forward.

If you’d like advice with probate, please get in touch with our experts in our Private Client team at any of our offices in York, Selby, Malton or Pickering.

Sharon Richardson and Belinda-Jane Poulter at our York office are Accredited Lifetime Lawyers of The Association of Lifetime Lawyers and Beth Worthy at our Pickering office is a Member of The Association of Lifetime Lawyers.