It’s good news that the government’s original proposal to introduce a “death tax” has been scrapped, as this would have seen grieving families pay up to £6,000 for probate.
However, introducing a flat fee of £273 is still a big rise for consumers – 26% for individuals applying for probate without a solicitor.
Since the start of the pandemic, bereaved families have had to deal with extensive delays in probate – which has only marginally improved. SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) members are still reporting an average wait of 6 to 9 weeks, and in my personal experience, this period can be much longer, particularly if queries arise on the application which needs verification.
The probate service still needs serious improvements, especially now people are having to pay considerably more for it. We’re hopeful that the fee increase will bring positive changes, but if not, both consumers and solicitors will feel frustrated with the system once more.
It’s time to draw a line in the sand and be clear about how and when vital changes will be made so bereaved families aren’t enduring further stress and anxiety at what is already a difficult time for them.
We’re also concerned that the universal fee, applied to professionals and individuals applying alike, could encourage families to reduce costs by applying themselves and avoid speaking with a lawyer. Seeking professional advice when dealing with probate will help resolve any complex arrangements within the estate and help relieve pressure on grieving loved ones.