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Increased probate fees must reflect changes to the service

29 March 2022 | Ben Coulson

Increased probate fees

On January 26th 2022 the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) increased probate application fees in England and Wales to a single, flat rate fee of £273. Prior to this change, the fees were £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users.

Estates valued at £5,000 or less will remain exempt from paying a fee on applying for a probate.

Why the MoJ increased probate fees:

  • To withdraw the unjustified disparity between professional and non-professional applicants for probate. This would align the fee structure with HM Treasury’s Managing Public Money handbook, which states all users should pay the same fee for the same service.
  • To set a fee at a level that recovers the cost of providing the HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) costs for delivering the service.
  • To protect access to justice by ensuring that courts and tribunals are sufficiently resourced in compliance with the Lord Chancellor’s statutory and constitutional duty. Whilst also reducing the overall taxpayer subsidy for HMCTS.

Probate delays

Since 2019, the probate service has introduced new application forms and a new online application system, and it has also been restructuring, with the closure of local probate registries. These factors, as well as the previous fee proposals, have resulted in significant backlogs in the issuance of probate grants.

In 2020, people had to wait an average of 12 to 14 weeks to receive their grant. Additionally, in October, HMCTS reported receiving 14,834 digital probate applications and 5,502 paper applications. In the same month, 20,128 grants of probate were issued, with an average processing time of 9.3 weeks for all applications. This was unacceptable, as the service must be timely and allow executors to settle a loved one’s estate.

Many professional bodies, including The Law Society and STEP, were confused as to why the UK government decided to raise the fees at that time, especially since the probate service was still experiencing delays. The Law Society expressed their need for assurance that the increased fees will be used to improve the service.

The MoJ acknowledged the Law Society’s concerns and promised that the increased fees will fully fund their investment in a first-class digital probate service, to guarantee shorter waiting times, fewer user and administrative errors, and an overall better experience for families.

Specialist Probate & Estate Administration Solicitors

If you would like advice about a Probate application or guidance through the practical aspects of probate and estate administration, please contact our friendly team of probate and estate administration solicitors. With many years of experience, our experts are best placed to provide technical legal advice and help navigate you through the process. Please get in touch by calling 0117 906 9400 or email hello@gl.law

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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