Fee hike for probate service

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that all users of the probate service are to pay a higher, flat fee, the Law Gazette reports.

At present, probate fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. This fee will changed to one single amount of £273 from 26 January, following a consultation.

The Law Society’s president, I. Stephanie Boyce, said in a statement that the Society supported the Ministry’s attempt to streamline the process for users and that it understood the necessity of funds to pay for change and development.

Probate service still facing delays

“However,” she added, “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.”

The delays have proved a long-running sore among solicitors and legal practitioners, with efforts to tackle them yet to prove effective and the ongoing pandemic adding further burden to the process.

The Law Society reports that last October, HM Courts & Tribunals Service reported that it has received 14,834 digital probate applications and 5,502 paper applications. In that month, 20,128 grants of probate were issued, and the timeliness for all applications was 9.3 weeks.

Single probate fee

Ms 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 in the system, but the Law Society’s president said the MoJ has not confirmed if this is something that will go ahead.

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