Probate fee rise must reflect changes to the service
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has announced that all users of the probate service will pay a single, flat rate fee of £273 as it publishes its consultation response on fee hikes to probate applications.
The current fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. From 26 January, these will change to one single probate fee of £273.
“We support the MoJ’s aim to make a simpler, more streamlined process for users of the probate service, and we understand funds are needed to help this change and development,” said Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce.
“However, we query why the UK government has decided to increase fees at this time, particularly as the probate service is still facing delays. In 2020, people had to wait 12 to 14 weeks on average to receive their grant. This is unacceptable, the service must be timely and allow executors to settle a loved one’s estate.”
In October, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reported it had received 14,834 digital probate applications and 5,502 paper applications. That same month, 20,128 grants of probate were issued, and the timeliness for all applications was 9.3 weeks.
I. Stephanie Boyce added: “The government believes there’s no longer a justification for maintaining a lower fee for professional applicants, while a single probate fee will align with its managing public money principles – where the same fee should be charged for all users of the same service.
“The MoJ acknowledges our key concerns that any increase should be reflected in new and tangible improvements to the service. It’s reassuring to see they’ve been making further advances to address these.
“They expect improvements to the service will remain consistent and will continue to progress in the future. We will be monitoring the situation closely for our members and their clients.
“We suggested users should be offered reimbursement for delays. The MoJ acknowledged this but did not confirm if it’s something they’ll incorporate.
“We will continue to speak with HMCTS at the monthly user group meetings, which have been in place since before the pandemic.”
Notes to editors
Probate is a legal document that gives executors of the will the relevant authority to deal with the assets and carry out the wishes of the loved one who has died. It is usually required if the estate of the deceased is worth more than £10,000.
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