Probate changes

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is reforming how professional users can apply for probate. Changes have included probate fees, and rolling out an online service for applications.

Online probate

From 2 November 2020, all grants of probate applications (where there's a will) must be made using MyHMCTS, the online service for professionals.

Read our guide on applying for probate

The Non-Contentious Probate (Amendment) Rules 2020 came into force on 2 November 2020. 

Probate delays

HMCTS has experienced delays to the probate service since 2018 when the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposed to increase probate fees.

Delays were further exacerbated by the pandemic.

We work closely with colleagues in HMCTS, including through:

  • regular probate professional user group meetings
  • providing regular feedback about the probate service
  • the online system

Check the latest timescales for processing probate applications

How to avoid common issues and stopped applications

Excepted estates

From 1 January 2022, the reporting requirements changed for estates below the current inheritance tax (IHT) threshold.

This means more estates are exempt from the requirement to submit detailed estate returns in order to obtain probate.

Administrators for a person domiciled in the UK with an excepted estate, who dies on or after 1 January 2022, no longer need to complete the IHT205 or IHT217 (where applicable).

Check what you need to provide for exempt estates

Probate fees increase

All users of the probate service pay a single, flat rate fee of £273.

Find out about waived fees

Our view

We support the MoJ’s overall aim to make a simpler, more streamlined process for users of the probate service and we understand that funds are needed to facilitate change and development.

We agree that probate fees should be designed to cover the cost of running and improving the service, and so welcome the departure from a policy of setting prohibitively high fees.

However, we query why government has decided to increase fees at this time.

We’ve supported the development of the online probate system and continue to work with HMCTS, through regular professional probate user group meetings, to improve the service it provides.

We note that savings and income for the court systems have already been produced by:

  • court closures
  • the digitisation strategy
  • increased fees across various court jurisdictions

Therefore, any increase in fees now should reflect new and tangible improvements made to the service.

We’d welcome a commitment from government that the revenue raised from this proposed increase will be used to fund improvements to the probate service and not other court jurisdictions.

We’d recommend reviewing the fees in a few years, once:

  • online probate is the norm across applications
  • the immediate effects of the pandemic have settled

We believe that the government should implement a minimum service level standard for individual applications, whereby if the service drops below that standard on an individual application, then the application is automatically reimbursed a percentage of the fee.

We take the view that 'stop' statistics should be published (for both professional and personal applicants). This would allow HMCTS, and solicitors, to identify trends which could help with any updated guidance HMCTS issues on 'stops' in the future.

Download our response to the consultation on aligning the fees for grants of probate to cost recovery

Next steps

We meet with HMCTS regularly, to raise your concerns and questions. 

If you have other queries or concerns about the probate service that you’d like us to raise with HMCTS, email

What we’re doing

Our research into the probate portal's impact on delivering justice

We surveyed 381 probate practitioners on the online portal, uncovering the extent of technical issues with the system and the impact of these on the delivery of justice.

Read our report

We publish a guide on applying for probate using the new service, bringing together the advice from our regular meetings with HMCTS.

Responding to delays and MoJ plans to align fees to cost recovery


We respond to the government’s consultation on aligning the fees for grants of probate to cost recovery.


Based on member feedback HMCTS makes improvements to MyHMCTS for probate practitioners.


The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announces that it will consult on whether to align the fees for grants of probate into a single fee that is set at cost recovery. We say the proposed rise in probate fees is unjustifiable given the long delays that users face.


HMCTS responds to issues with the probate service following feedback from our members.


HMCTS starts publishing management information (MI) on workload and timeliness for the part of the probate service that deliver grants of probate.

Changes to non-contentious probate

November 2020

The new non-contentious probate rules come into force.

The rules mandate the use of the online service for grants of probate applications by professional users, with a number of exceptions for more specialised applications.

September 2020

We shared our views on the non-contentious probate consultation: mandating online professional applications.

The government published its response on non-contentious probate.

Launch of online service, and our campaign against probate fees

October 2019
  • The government confirmed that it would scrap its probate fees proposals following our successful campaign
  • HMCTS announced it would roll out a national pilot that will enable legal professionals to access the online probate service
September 2019
  • The probate fees vote lapses following our successful campaign
  • We met with HMCTS for an update on the delays to the probate system
August 2019

HMCTS introduced digital amendments to grants, known as re-issued grants.

July 2019

HMCTS hosted an event on probate reform.

June 2019
  • We met with HMCTS to discuss what it’s been doing to fix the delays to the probate service
  • Our public affairs team briefed the House of Lords before a session on probate delays. Baroness Browning asked what the government is doing to reduce delays in probate being granted to non-professional claimants. Baroness Browning referred to the Law Society during the session
May 2019

We challenged HMCTS on delays to the probate service.

March 2019
  • HMCTS started issuing a new style of grant of probate certificates
  • We released a podcast about the new probate service
February 2019

We asked members to write to their MP about the proposed raise in probate fees.

January 2019

HMCTS launched the online probate service.

  • We asked members of the House of Lords to support amendments and decline or regret the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order
  • The House of Lords passed a motion to put on record its regret that the proposed probate fees increase is greater than the cost of the service

HMCTS trialled an online probate service in 2017 for personal applicants and pre-selected solicitors.

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