The Ministry of Justice launched a consultation last month regarding a proposed increase in the probate court fee.
Probate fees are set to rise with the proposal of a flat fee as opposed to fees based on the estate’s value.
Under current rules, the court fee for a grant of probate is £155 for an application made by a probate professional, whilst a lay applicant pays £215. The Government proposes charging a fixed fee of £273, regardless of the size of the estate. Depending on the outcome of the consultation it is anticipated that the new fee would be applicable from early 2022.
Increases to probate fees had been proposed in 2016 and 2019, reflecting the value of the estate. Those proposals were much more drastic, involving sliding scales of fees under which the biggest estates (£2m plus) would have paid £6,000. These proposals received harsh criticism and were shelved by the Government.
The current proposals are justified by the Government on the basis that the probate service is currently operating at a loss and the increased fee will enable the service to cover its costs.
A new online application system was introduced last year by the Probate Service, and a number of probate registries have been closed. These factors, as well as an increased volume, have led to continued and significant delays to the probate service.
The consultation process ends on 23 September 2021 and our Private Client Team will be following the progress of the matter with interest.
If you have any queries in relation to probate and estate administration, please contact Lisa Hills Tagg on 01825 747122 or any member of the Private Client Team.