The Ministry of Justice has begun work on closing down regional probate registries and moving the service under one roof.

The Law Society Gazette understands some staff at the 10 remaining sites across England and Wales have been told of intentions to scale back their operations and eventually close down the sites.

The change comes as part of the wider £1bn modernisation programme to upgrade the courts and tribunals service. Ministers insist the service will improve through bringing together shared expertise.

Practitioners will however be concerned by the removal of face-to-face service for work that often requires familiarity with and trust in those administering it. Questions are certain to be asked about why probate services are being cut when the government plans to increase fees.