Proposed rise in probate fees unjustifiable as users face long delays

21st July 2021

Plans to hike fees for probate applications are unwelcome particularly when grieving relatives are suffering because the service is still subject to significant delays, said the Law Society of England and Wales in a response to an announcement by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

The current fees are £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users. These would change to one single probate fee of £273.

“The MoJ’s persistence of raising fees in the probate service is worrying, particularly when there are continued and significant delays to the probate service,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.

In February, HM Courts & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) reported it had received 17,101 digital probate applications and 7,008 paper applications. That same month, 23,687 grants of probate were issued.

I. Stephanie Boyce added: “With so many applications now online and the expansion of Court and Tribunal Service Centres to centralise administration, it is unclear why probate service overheads have increased to justify such a significant fee hike.

“It is no secret the probate service has faced delays for people applying for probate grants or letters of administration. 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.

“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.”

The Law Society will be responding to the consultation in full in due course based on discussions with our members.