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 (from 26 January 2022) 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.
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 at 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 with the estate and helps relieve pressure on grieving loved ones.
SFE lawyers are experts in this area of older client law and will be able to advice on your specific circumstances. To find your local SFE accredited lawyer, visit: https://sfe.legal/find-a-lawyer/.
Michelle Gavin TEP – Partner & Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate and member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people.