Atterbury Payne Solicitors

Court Fees: Rising Costs, Improved Service?

As of 1 May 2024, Probate application fees have increased by 10%. Since this rise has come at a time when Probate applications are taking longer than they did pre-COVID, and the Probate Court’s telephone line is now only available during the morning, these developments raise questions about whether the rising costs are matched by improvements in service.

Weighing the Costs

While the fee increase is modest—a rise of £27 from £273 to £300—the impact on applicants cannot be ignored. Some may argue that higher fees should translate to a more efficient service, but current delays suggest otherwise. Others might feel that if the current fee structure is unsustainable, a higher fee that leads to better service would be worth it.

Alternative Approaches

In the past, there have been discussions about introducing a tiered fee scale for Probate applications, matching fees to the values of the estates in question. Although this approach went through two rounds of consultation, it has yet to be implemented. At a time when delays are causing financial hardships for those unable to access their loved ones’ funds, it may be time to revisit these ideas.

Impact on Lay and Professional Applicants

Another aspect of the discussion revolves around the cost of lay applicants versus professional applicants. Lay applicants often require more support and assistance from the Probate Service, whereas professional applicants typically reduce the burden on court staff. However, equality in fees for both lay and professional applicants maintains fairness across the board.

Changes in Court of Protection Fees

In addition to the changes in Probate fees, Court of Protection application fees have risen from £371 to £450, while hearing fees have remained the same. Despite the increased fees, our experience indicates that the Court of Protection continues to operate at similar timescales to pre-COVID levels.

The Role of Professional Assistance

In an ideal scenario, rising fees would lead to improved service levels. Until then, engaging a professional firm to handle Probate, Court of Protection or other court matters can help you to navigate the system more smoothly. Professional advisers can provide necessary documents and information from the outset and follow up promptly, leveraging their experience with similar cases.

 If you need assistance with Probate, Court of Protection, or other court matters, reach out to us for guidance.


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