The Ministry of Justice has announced plans to increase probate application fees. According to the new proposals, the cost of applying for a grant of probate will rise from £155 (for professional users) and £215 (for non-professional users) to a universal fee of £273 applicable to all applicants, regardless of the size of the estate in question. The only exception being – as is currently the case – estates worth less than £5000, which will not require a fee.
To justify the proposed change, the government has stated that the current probate service is operating at a loss (which subsequently places a burden on the taxpayer), and that increased fees will help to cover the costs.
Approaching with caution (possibly due to the proposed 2019 fee hike that was subsequently discarded after provoking a widespread outcry), the Ministry of Justice was clear in emphasising that the increased fees will not be a source of profit for the government.
But the proposal certainly hasn’t gained universal support. Speaking against it, Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said, “The [Ministry of Justice’s] persistence of raising fees in the probate service is worrying, particularly when there are continued and significant delays to the probate service […] Any increase in fees must be reflected in the service provided. The online service was specifically designed to streamline the process and the UK government must get the system working efficiently before upping costs to both professional and non-professional users alike.”
Some of the delays I. Stephanie Boyce is referring to came from a surge in applications during the winter wave of the pandemic, as well as some technical problems with the online service (which HMCTS states have now been fixed).
The consultation for the increase will continue until 23rd September 2021 – we’ll share any relevant updates in the meantime.
For more information, or if you have any questions regarding this subject, contact our probate & estate administration expert Fiona Grogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.