Profession urged to respond to probate fee consultation

The Law Society has urged solicitors to help it respond to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposals to increase fees for probate applications.

Proposals were introduced in July to increase the professional and non-professional fees to a flat rate of £273 as part of a plan to address an £85m deficit in the delivery of services in the family jurisdiction.

Critics have already called for any proposed increases to be put on hold until service issues are resolved. June’s figures show grants took an average 7.6 weeks to be issued after a probate application had been submitted. This is slightly higher than in June 2020 when the figure was 7.5 weeks.

Meanwhile, MyHMCTS continues to develop its user interface. From Thursday 19 August trust corporations will be allowed to apply for grants of probate online for the first time following requests from users. New prompts will also be introduced to MyHMCTS to make applications more straightforward, and solicitors will no longer be required to send a death certificate of any pre-deceased executors.

In a blog released last week Adam Lennon, Deputy Director of HMCTS, wrote that

“we know that our service could be improved, and that some applicants have experienced difficulties and delays. I want to outline our plans for these improvements and explain how we’ve used valuable feedback to make things better for our users”.

Launching it’s own survey to inform The Law Society’s response to the consultation Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said:

“We want to ensure that the changes won’t affect the viability of firms doing probate work or act as a barrier to vulnerable people who need to use this service.

“This survey is a way for us to hear your views on the proposals, as well as other improvements probate solicitors would like to see in the probate service in England.

“The probate service has had continued and significant delays during the pandemic, with some users facing delays of 12 to 14 weeks in 2020 when they were applying for probate grants of letters of administration.

“This is unacceptable, the service must be timely and allow executors to settle a loved one’s estate. The online service was specifically designed to streamline the process and the UK government must ensure the system is working efficiently.

“We would value input from probate practitioners who are using this service and views on how delays have affected their clients.”

The Law Society’s survey closes on Friday 27 August and it will be responding to the consultation in full in September.

You can complete the Law Society’s survey here: https://lawsociety.questionpro.eu/a/TakeSurvey?tt=co5mc/x3ltiJLSouqUEbXA%3D%3D

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