Last month The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) announced that following a consultation on probate fees, all users of the probate service will be required to pay an increased, single, flat-rate fee from 26th January.
The current fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. From 26th January, these will change to one single probate fee of £273.
Law Society of England and Wales president I. Stephanie Boyce has issued a response to the MOJ’s fee increases, stating:
“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.
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.”
In October, HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) 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.
I. Stephanie 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.
They expect improvements to the service will remain consistent and will continue to progress in the future. We will be monitoring the situation closely for our members and their clients.
We suggested users should be offered reimbursement for delays. The MoJ acknowledged this but did not confirm if it’s something they’ll incorporate.
We will continue to speak with HMCTS at the monthly user group meetings, which have been in place since before the pandemic.”