The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that all users of the probate service will soon pay a higher, flat fee.
At present the fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. From 26 January, following a consulation, 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,’ commented Law Society 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.’
Last October, HM Courts & Tribunals Service 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.
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.’
Chancery Lane has suggested users should be offered reimbursement for delays, but Boyce said the MoJ has not confirmed if this is something it will proceed with.