Over the weekend our probate solicitors saw what we hope to be the end of the on-going probate fee saga…the government have confirmed that the proposed fee increases will not become law.
Probate fees for estates worth over £5,000 are currently set at a fixed fee of £215 (£155 on applications made through a solicitor) irrespective of the value of the estate. However, over the last number of years there has been on-going uncertainty as to whether we would see a significant increase to these fees.
The ongoing saga
In February 2016 it was proposed that fees be increased up to £20,000 depending on the value of the estate.
The proposals were dropped in April 2017, only to resurface in a slightly less extortionate guise in November 2018. Whilst less drastic, the revised increases were still disproportionate and unfair for bereaved families. These proposals would have seen the fees increase on a sliding scale of up to £6,000 based on the value of the estate.
Simon Davis, President of the Law Society, deemed the proposed hike in fees to be a ‘tax on grief’. It would have been ‘inherently unfair’, to charge bereaved families a disproportionate amount for the service provided to them by the probate court, especially as they have no choice but to apply for probate.
Brexit has had a part to play in preventing the proposals reaching the statute books. In March a “hold” was placed on debating the proposals since parliamentary time was being taken up on other matters.
Since then we’ve had a proroguing of parliament and subsequent Supreme Court ruling rendering the proroguing unlawful… This in turn meant that the proposed fee increase could perhaps make it onto the statute books.
However, following a recent government announcement it has been confirmed that the probate fee increases will not become law. This is very welcome news.
Whilst it is good news that probate fees will be staying as they are for the time being, the ramifications of these proposals are having a continuing effect. The threat of fee increases prompted a spike in probate applications as executors sought to avoid being faced with higher fees.
This has contributed to severe delays at the registry, with executors being warned that probate grant applications can take around 6 to 7 weeks to be processed.
How we can assist
Here at Blake Morgan we have an experienced team of lawyers ready to guide you through the probate process. Whilst we can’t speed up the probate registry delays, we can advise and support you and your family, meaning you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
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