A Warrington and Cheshire probate solicitor is urging people to start their probate process as soon as possible ahead of large-scale Government changes.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has begun centralising probate services, with regional registries set to close. The plan is to move probate services to Birmingham, with some administrative work taking place at a second site.
This could have a serious impact on the service and support currently provided by the Government, warns Alex Mitchell, partner and head of the private client department, at Watsons Solicitors.
“Currently, those living in Warrington and Cheshire have easy access to regional probate offices in Manchester and Liverpool,” she said.
“This allows individuals to receive face-to-face support and guidance during what can be a very difficult time. There is a clear danger that this decision will leave people in a more unstable and precarious situation.
“Many members of the public are unaware that if they make mistakes they could be at risk of criminal proceedings for fraud. This is why you should seek professional advice.”
In addition, despite the Government cutting services, they are planning to increase application fees for Probate.
Alex added: “The proposed amendments to the fees structure are not minor; for example estates worth £2m or more would pay £6,000 instead of the present fee of £155 (if using a solicitor, otherwise £215 where an application is made without the assistance of a professional). This is effectively a hidden tax which prompt action could avoid.
“If anyone is unsure how best to progress with probate, my advice is to speak to our probate department. They are trained in that area of law and know the correct process to follow.
“Ultimately, we can make the process much simpler and provide you with the support that you need to ensure that matters are dealt with correctly.”
Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, and conveyancing.
Its experienced solicitors each hold accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.
Anyone interested in finding out more about wills and probate should contact Watsons Solicitors on 01925 571 212.