Will-writing service Farewill has launched a probate service aimed to streamline the way beneficiaries get control of a loved one’s estate.
It is hoped the service will cut the probate turnaround time to 30 days — compared with an industry average of months — and provide ongoing support throughout the process.
Through the service, which costs a flat fee of £350, Farewill completes all the probate and tax forms and the consumer is not required to take an oath.
According to Farewill, this removes the need for the consumer to travel to a probate registry or visit a solicitor.
A spokesperson from the firm said: "We have introduced this service as a means of making the process transparent in regards to cost, simple to use and above all, personable.
"Within the UK, more than 1.5m grieving families will need to go through this process within the next five years — but no one has heard of it."
Probate is typically required for estates where assets are above £15,000 and are not being automatically transferred to a surviving owner.
During probate the estate is valued, beneficiaries are determined, an executor in charge of estate distribution is declared, and the estate is legally transferred to the beneficiaries.
According to Farewill, traditionally the vast majority of consumers (86 per cent) will go to a solicitor for help, but about 70 per cent of estates have no complex features and can be dealt with more affordably.
On top of this, Farewill’s own research showed that after an oath swearing, the grant of probate usually takes between three to four weeks even before the remaining process — which often takes about six months — can begin.
The cost and lengthy nature of applying for probate has hit the headlines recently as the government revealed plans to increase the minimum probate fee from a flat fee of £215 to a tiered structure, with £250 for estates with assets of less than £500,000.
The biggest jump will be for wealthy estates. It will be priced at £4,000 for estates valued more than £1m and £6,000 for estates worth more than £2m. This is additional to inheritance tax.
The change, which was due to come into force on April 1, has since been delayed indefinitely due to ongoing parliamentary discussions over Brexit and bereaved families were encouraged to apply for probate as soon as possible to avoid any potential hike.
However Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC, said there appeared to be no appetite within the government to reintroduce the rise and said she expected the increase to be "quietly dropped".
Commenting on Farewill’s product launch, Ms Ingram said: "LEBC believes that multi channel financial and legal services are the way forward with those with straightforward needs being able to access services in a range of ways.
"Giving consumers choice and flexibility is key so that they can access the most appropriate service for their needs at an affordable cost."