Government plans to raise fees for probate applications are unjustified, especially when relatives are still facing delays, the Law Society of England and Wales has said.

The Society was responding to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ’s) announcement that probate fees were to rise from the existing £155 for professional users and £215 for non-professional users to one single probate fee of £273.

This, officials said, would “remove the unjustified discrepancy between professional and non-professional applicants for probate” while also bringing the fee structure “into alignment with HM Treasury’s Managing Public Money, where all users should pay the same fee for the same service”.

Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce described the price increase as “worrying” and added: “With so many applications now online and the expansion of Court and Tribunal Service Centres to centralise administration, it is unclear why probate service overheads have increased to justify such a significant fee hike.”

Ms Boyce added: “It is no secret the probate service has faced delays for people applying for probate grants or letters of administration. In 2020, people had to wait 12 to 14 weeks on average to receive their grant. This is unacceptable, the service must be timely and allow executors to settle a loved one’s estate.

“Any increase in fees must be reflected in the service provided. The online service was specifically designed to streamline the process and the UK government must get the system working efficiently before upping costs for both professional and non-professional users.”

The MoJ’s consultation on aligning fees for probate can be read here.