The Ministry of Justice has today published a consultation setting out proposals to increase the current fees to apply for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration from £155 for probate professionals and £215 for individuals to a flat fee of £273 for all applicants.
Who pays probate fees?
The fee is to be payable on estates whose value exceeds £5,000.00. Subject to the outcome of the consultation and any final decision taken on these proposals the intention would be to implement the revised fees in early 2022.
Current issues with the probate system
Whilst the proposals are significantly different from the fee hikes proposed in 2019 and 2017 which were viewed as a stealth tax, the proposals come at a time probate practitioners are experiencing significant delays as a result of the closure of Probate Registries and the introduction of an online service which is mandatory for all professionals applying for Grants of Probate.
Online probate service
There have been a number of issues resulting from the online service with many applications being cancelled and practitioners experiencing repeated failure of access codes meaning difficulty logging into the system.
The Ministry of Justice claims that the current system is subsidised by the taxpayer.
Where does the probate fee go?
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson has said that every penny from the fee increase will go towards the cost of processing applications meaning taxpayers will no longer be forced to subsidise the process.