Probate fees increase set to take effect this week
The Ministry of Justice recently announced all users of the probate service will pay a single, flat-rate fee of £273, following its consultation last year.
Currently, fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. From 26 January 2022, these will change to one single probate fee of £273, regardless of the size of the estate.
The Ministry of Justice says these fees will fund investment in a first-class digital probate service to ensure shorter waiting times, fewer user and administrative errors and a better experience for families.
However, bereaved families are now being asked to wait six weeks before applying for probate, leading to increased interest and even longer delays. Most recent reports have revealed that consumers are waiting six to nine weeks to obtain probate.
In light of this, the fee rises to probate – although a much better alternative to the proposed “death tax” which would’ve seen families paying a sliding-scale fee for probate related to the value of the deceased’s estate (of up to £6,000) – has raised some concerns. If fees are to increase, professionals and consumers expect improvements to the system.
It is important to note that The MoJ will continue to waive probate fees altogether for estates worth £5,000 and under.
“The probate service still needs serious improvements, especially now people are having to pay considerably more for it. We’re hopeful that the fee increase will bring positive changes, but if not, both consumers and solicitors will feel frustrated at the system once more. We’re also concerned that the universal fee, applied to professionals and individuals applying alike, could encourage families to reduce costs by applying themselves and avoid speaking with a lawyer. Seeking professional advice when dealing with probate will help resolve any complex arrangements with the estate and helps relieve pressure on grieving loved ones” says SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), a membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people.
If you are planning for the future and are concerned about the cost of the probate court fee, Catherine Bailey and Matthew Rose, Partners at GA Solicitors are members of the SFE. You can contact the team by calling 01752 203500 or emailing enquiries@GAsolicitors.com.