Proposed Probate Fee Hike Scrapped

15th October 2019



Probate fees were due to increase next year, after the April 2019 introduction date was delayed. This reform intended to introduce a six-tiered sliding scale of fees, where higher value estates would have paid higher fees.

The proposed fee hike has not been popular and groups such as the Law Society have been opposed to and campaigned against this increase since it has been announced. Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, announcing the reversal of this policy, said;

‘While fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, they must be fair and proportionate. We will withdraw these proposals, and keep the current system while we take a closer look at these court fees as part of our annual wider review.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson added;

‘We have listened carefully to concerns around changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate.’

This is not the first time a Probate fee increase has been announced and withdrawn. David Cameron’s government announced a significant increase that would have meant the highest value estates would have incurred fees of up to £20,000.

This was scrapped by his successor Theresa May, who later introduced a more modest increase, but one that would have still seen fees top out at £6,000 for an estate worth over £2,000,000. The more recent proposal would have raised the threshold at which fees were incurred, meaning 25,000 estates would have no longer needed to pay for Probate, however increased fees would have affected 280,000.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, is pleased that the increase is no longer going ahead, saying;

‘A hike in probate fees would have been a tax on grief. We campaigned vigorously against the increase on behalf of bereaved families and are relieved the government has listened to reason. It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the courts and tribunal service when they have no other option but to apply for probate.’

A rush to apply for Probate before the new fees came in, occurred at a time new computer software was introduced, leading to a large backlog in Probate applications. Currently, those applying can see a wait of up to 13 weeks for a grant of Probate.

Probate fees will now remain at £215, or £155 when applying through a solicitor. We will keep you updated about further developments on this story.

Read the Law Society Gazette’s coverage of the story

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