The government has announced that the proposed increase in probate fees has been scrapped.

The increase proposed under the government of former Prime Minister Theresa May, would have charged probate applicants up to £6,000 in Court fees and was to be based on the value of each estate.  This would have been an enormous increase given that the current flat fee for applications is £155 (if applied for through a solicitor, or £215 if applying personally).

Robert Buckland, the Justice Secretary, indicated that the proposed policy was not ‘fair and proportionate’.  He said that there will now only be some adjustments to cover costs and that the Department of Justice will look at Court fees as part of a wider review.

The plans for the fee changes were first suggested in 2016 when a maximum Court fee of £20,000 was mooted.  These plans were temporarily scrapped by the calling of a general election but were reintroduced in November 2018 with a lower maximum fee of £6,000 suggested.  The plans met with considerable opposition and were challenged by some MPs because the proposed charges were far higher than the cost of delivering the probate service.

The increase in fees was set to be introduced in April 2019 before being postponed at the last minute.  However, the proposals triggered an enormous rush of probate applications at the end of March to take advantage of the lower fixed fee.  This has caused a serious backlog at the Probate Service which is still affecting the service now.  Applications are taking months rather to be dealt with and continue to affect the administration of estates with Executors being unable to sell property or collect in assets until Probate if granted.

It is hoped that the delay will reduce over the next few months so that normal timescales can be reintroduced to bring to an end the uncertainty and worry that the proposals have caused to families.

If you would like assistance with obtaining Probate or administering an estate please contact Helena Grady at Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited for advice 0114 2588899.  Helena is a solicitor and member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) with many years’ experience of handling estate administration.

Please note that, although Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited operate from the same premises as Fogwill & Jones Asset Management Limited they are entirely separate businesses.  The only connection is that both are owned by Colin Fogwill. If you are a client of Fogwill & Jones Asset Management Limited you are under no obligation to instruct Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited and you may choose to instruct alternative legal advisers.

Source:  Helena Grady (Solicitor) Fogwill & Jones (Legal Services) Limited – Monday, 14 October, 2019