Associate solicitor Elizabeth Short, in our leading Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team, looks at a new proposal to increase probate application fees.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched a consultation on its new proposal to increase probate application fees, a move that was first discussed back in 2018.
In 2019, plans for a more substantial increase to fees, involving a sliding scale based on the value of a person’s estate, were abandoned. This would, for example, have seen estates valued at over £2 million subject to a court fee of £6,000.
According to the MoJ, the new proposal’s aims are to:
- remove the unjustified discrepancy between professional and non-professional applicants for probate. This would bring the fee structure into alignment with HM Treasury’s Managing Public Money, where all users should pay the same fee for the same service.
- ensure that the fee recovers the cost to Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) of delivering the service.
- protect access to justice by ensuring that courts and tribunals are adequately resourced, while reducing the overall taxpayer subsidy for HMCTS.
The changes would see the probate application fee rise to £273 for both professional and non-professional users, increased from £155 and £215 respectively.
Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance and Justice, explained that as well as aligning the fees, which currently differ depending on who applies, the move would “eliminate the public (taxpayer) subsidy for the probate application process.”
Mr Philp described the potential changes as “a far more modest increase than previous proposals” and explained that the rises would generate “crucial income for HMCTS” amounting to an additional £23 million – £25 million for HMCTS.
President of The Law Society Stephanie Boyce, who has expressed concerns over the proposal, said: “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. Any increase in fees must be reflected in the service provided.”
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