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Darlington law firm warns of substantial increases to the cost of probate registry fees

Natalie Palmer, Solicitor and Director of Latimer Hinks

Latimer Hinks, a Darlington-based law firm, is warning its clients to be aware of potential cost changes in death certificates and probate fees, which are set to come in to force over the coming months.

Probate fees are set to change in April and will work on a sliding scale rather than the current set cost. Currently, the charge is a flat rate of £215, or £155 if applied for through a solicitor, on estates valued at more than £5,000.

The planned rule changes mean estates valued at less than £50,000 will not be subject to probate fees, however, estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will be charged £250, and the maximum cost will be £6,000 for estates worth £2 million or more.

At present, it is unclear whether the new probate fees will only apply to those who die after the new rules come into force or, whether it will apply to all applications made after the date of commencement. If the latter, there is likely to be an influx of probate applications between now and April as people try to avoid the increased charges.

Natalie Palmer, a Solicitor and Director of Latimer Hinks, said: “We deal with many families who have lost loved ones, and we want to make sure people who will be impacted are aware of these changes, so that they can prepare for the increased cost of making a probate application.

There are also changes coming in to increase the cost of applying for death certificates which currently cost £4 at time of registration and are variable thereafter. From 16 February this year, death certificates will be charged at a standard rate of £11, regardless of when they’re purchased – a 275 per cent increase in cost.

Natalie said: “Although, on the face of it, this may seem like a relatively small sum of money, we want to raise awareness of the rise in the cost of death certificates.

“Many organisations require original death certificates to close or transfer accounts, and families frequently have to purchase more than one. It is only fair that people are aware of the cost, so they can budget for it correctly.”