The administration of thousands of estates could be delayed because of a near three-fold rise in the cost of obtaining online death certificates, according to Thursfields Solicitors.
The warning comes after the General Register Office this month increased the cost of obtaining a certificate online from £4 to £11.
Laura Banks, a Senior Associate Solicitor in the private client team in Thursfields’ Birmingham office, said: “While the £7 increase by itself doesn’t seem like a huge amount of money, many probate cases involve the need to obtain 10 or even more copies and so the total costs can be large.
With some probate providers handling many estates, they may take the view this is too large a cost to pay themselves and wait months for reimbursement, and this could result in the delay of certain estates.
A family may be asked to find the funds to pay the probate providers up front for these at what is a hugely upsetting time when there is little or no access to the deceased’s funds, and this could be a problem.
Overall these increases are upsetting, and if probate court fees are also increased as threatened this will make death a costly business for the family.”
However, Laura said that although the increased costs were an extra burden for families, Thursfields would consider paying the initial death certificate costs upfront for clients rather than cause unnecessary delays.
She added: “Thursfields knows this is a difficult time for families and we will always look to process estates as quickly as possible, despite the increase in death certificate costs.
These will eventually be reimbursed by the successful administration of estates, and so we won’t let the cost increase cause delays to our important and sensitive work.”