All users of the probate service will now pay a single, flat rate fee of £273, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed.
The new charge – which replaces the £155 fee for probate practitioners and £215 fee for all other users – came into effect on 26 January 2022.
The MoJ says the new fixed rate fee is fair and proportionate and will be used to support investment in the probate service – resulting in shorter waiting times, fewer user and administrative errors, and a better overall experience for families.
But critics say the additional costs – representing a 26 per cent rise for consumers – do not reflect the level of service currently received.
According to Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), the national association of lawyers who specialise in legal services for older and vulnerable people, bereaved families are being asked to wait up to nine weeks before applying for probate, leading to extra costs, interest and delays.
“The probate service still needs serious improvements, especially now people are having to pay considerably more for it,” said the SFE.
“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.”
The association added: “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.”
While a universal fee may encourage bereaved families to apply for probate without the support of a specialist solicitor, it is always advised to seek professional advice. Seeking the help of an experienced lawyer now can help resolve complex arrangements and avoid potential conflict further down the line.
For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our probate and estate planning team today.
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