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All users of probate service to pay a single, flat rate to MOJ

View profile for Sharon Richardson
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The Ministry of Justice recently announced all users of the probate service will pay a single, flat rate fee of £273, following its consultation in 2021.

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.

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.

It’s good news that the government’s original proposal to introduce a “death tax” has been scrapped, as this would have seen grieving families pay up to £6,000 for probate.

However, introducing a flat fee of £273 is still a big rise for consumers – 26% for individuals applying for probate without a solicitor.

Since the start of the pandemic, bereaved families have had to deal with extensive delays in probate – which has only marginally improved. SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) members are still reporting an average wait of 6 to 9 weeks.

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.

It’s time to draw a line in the sand and be clear about how and when vital changes will be made so bereaved families aren’t enduring further stress and anxiety at what is already a difficult time for them.

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. 

Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) is a national organisation of lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers and legal executives, committed to providing and promoting high-quality legal services for older people, their family and carers.

At Crombie Wilkinson Solicitors, Sharon Richardson and Belinda-Jane Poulter based at our York office are members of SFE and Bethany Worthy based at our Pickering office (covering Ryedale) is also a SFE Associate Member. Members of SFE have a wealth of experience within this key legal area and they are required to have spent a substantial amount of time working for elderly clients so you can be confident about the service you receive.