As of 26th January 2022, the probate court fees increased by £118 for individuals and £58 for professionals. The cost will now include a flat fee of £273 for everyone regardless of whether they are a solicitor or private individuals.

What is probate court?

Probate is essentially the legal process of handling the estate of someone who has passed away according to the intentions that they have set out in their will. When someone dies, probate should be applied for by the executor of the will, which gives them the legal right to deal with the estate. 

Probate court is a court that is specialised in dealing with the property and debts of a person who has passed away. The role of the probate court judge is to ensure that the deceased’s bills are settled (creditors are paid) and that the assets are distributed appropriately to the beneficiaries of the will.

A grant of probate is a legal document that is needed for the probate court to access the deceased’s bank account details, sell assets, and settle possible disputes. In order to apply to the probate court, a fee is required. The consequence of not paying the court fee will result in not being able to receive a grant of probate.

How much is probate court? 

Prior to the increase, the probate court fee was £155 for professionals and £215 for individuals. This rate only applied in cases where the total value of the deceased’s assets was over £5,000.

It remains the case that for estates worth less than £5,000, probate court fees will not be incurred. As of 26th January 2022, the court cost has now risen to a flat fee of £273 for both professionals and individuals regardless of the situation or valuation of the deceased’s assets (over £5000).

Why did the fees increase?

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reported that the reason for the fee increase was due to repeated annual losses and that the past probate price forced the MoJ to be supported by taxpayers’ money. The flat fee of £273, will supposedly alleviate this operational loss and will avoid having to be subsidised by taxpayers. 

What is the impact of the probate court fee increase?

In 2019, the MoJ scrapped a ‘sliding scale’ fee system due to it being 'inherently unfair’. The reason was that the ‘sliding scale’ fee meant that families would be charged up to £6,000, depending on the value of the deceased’s assets.

Although the recent probate court fee increase, on the face of it, may appear to negatively impact individuals, in actual fact, the change can be seen as positive. As it stands, the flat fee increase, while still lower than the sliding scale fees in 2019 will not favour either a professional or individual. This makes for a somewhat fairer system where everyone pays the same amount. The cost is said to only cover the cost of making probate applications rather than allowing the government to profit from the fees. 


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