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Probate changes

17 October 2019

Online probate

In October 2019, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) announced it's rolling out a national pilot that will enable legal professionals to access the online probate service.

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

In January 2019 HMCTS launched the online service.

Listen to our podcast about the new online probate service

Probate delays

The probate service usually processes probate applications within 10 working days. However, some applications are facing delays of six to eight weeks.

These delays are being caused by:

  • an increase in applications since the proposed probate fees increase was announced
  • IT problems linked to the online probate applications process
  • the need to train new staff and the time required for them to understand the new system

Read about our meeting with HMCTS about probate delays

Probate fees increase

In 2018 the Ministry of Justice announced its proposal to increase probate fees. The proposal means that:

  • probate fees would increase from £215, or £155 if done by a solicitor, to a sliding scale ranging from £250 to £6,000 depending on the value of the estate
  • if the estate is worth less than £50,000 probate fees would not have to be paid

Find out more about the proposed probate fees increase

Our view

We strongly oppose the probate fees increase. In February 2019, we urged MPs to object to the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018 and vote against approving it.

We believe:

  • the dramatic increase in fees amounts to a stealth tax and is a misuse of the Lord Chancellor’s fee-levying power
  • the fee increase is disproportionate and excessive compared to the current fees of £215
  • it's unfair to expect the bereaved to fund or subsidise other parts of the courts and tribunals service, particularly if they have no other option but to use the probate service

What this means for solicitors

The proposed changes to the probate system mean that:

  • you may have to wait significantly longer than expected for a grant of probate to be issued
  • the current flat fee rate may be changing to a sliding scale depending on the value of the estate

What we’re doing

Get involved

Write to your local MP about the proposed probate fees increase

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