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.
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
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).
Probate fees increase
All users of the probate service pay a single, flat rate fee of £273.
Find out about waived fees
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What we’re doing
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.
We publish a guide on applying for probate using the new service, bringing together the advice from our regular meetings with HMCTS.
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.
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.
We shared our views on the non-contentious probate consultation: mandating online professional applications.
The government published its response on non-contentious probate.
- 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
- The probate fees vote lapses following our successful campaign
- We met with HMCTS for an update on the delays to the probate system
HMCTS introduced digital amendments to grants, known as re-issued grants.
HMCTS hosted an event on probate reform.
- 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
We challenged HMCTS on delays to the probate service.
- HMCTS started issuing a new style of grant of probate certificates
- We released a podcast about the new probate service
We asked members to write to their MP about the proposed raise in probate fees.
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