Increase in Probate Fees from May 2024

Probate Fee Increase: Balancing Improved Services and Executor Concerns

As of May 2024, the fee for applying for a Grant of Probate in England and Wales has risen from £273 to £300. This change, announced following the government’s consultation on “Implementing increases to selected court and tribunal fees”, has raised both hopes and concerns among those involved in the probate process.

Mixed Responses to the Consultation

The Ministry of Justice’s consultation received 52 responses, with a significant portion (40%) expressing disagreement with the general principle of increasing fees. Some respondents questioned whether the service provided by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) justifies the increased costs. Furthermore, a majority of respondents advocated for the removal of certain fees, with probate fees being a primary candidate.

Addressing the Probate Backlog

The decision to increase probate fees comes amidst ongoing delays in the Probate Registry. As of April 2023, the expected waiting period for receiving probate had reached 16 weeks, a substantial increase from the previous year. In response to these concerns, the Justice Committee initiated an inquiry into HMCTS in late 2023, focusing on various aspects of the Probate Registry’s performance and the experiences of those involved in the process.

Despite these challenges, recent data from HMCTS indicates a positive trend, with the average time from submission to Grant receipt decreasing to 13.6 weeks in December 2023, a notable improvement from the previous month.

Investing in Service Improvements

The government has acknowledged the impact of increased application volumes on probate delays since the pandemic. In response, they have implemented changes aimed at assisting users in submitting accurate applications and have expressed a commitment to enhancing the overall probate service and minimizing wait times.

The proposed increase in probate fees is intended to support these efforts, with HMCTS stating that the additional funds will contribute to “the continued improvement of service delivery”. At C-PAID, we are cautiously optimistic that these investments will lead to a more efficient and responsive probate process.

Considering the Executor’s Perspective

While the potential for improved services is encouraging, we must also consider the impact of the fee increase on Executors, particularly those who are laypeople. The expectation to pay higher upfront costs to fulfill their legal duties may add to the financial and emotional strain experienced by Executors during an already challenging time, although we recognise that executors can recover these costs when they administer the estate.

At C-PAID, we recognise the complexities and emotional toll of the probate process. Our knowledgeable team is dedicated to providing support and guidance to Executors as they navigate the legal and financial aspects of estate administration. If you have concerns about the increased probate fees, contesting an application for a grant of probate or require assistance with any stage of the probate process, please reach out to us for personalised advice and support.

The Ministry of Justice says that it welcomes feedback and complaints regarding the consultation process, which can be submitted via email to mojfeespolicy@justice.gov.uk.