The proposed dramatic increase in Probate fees has been cancelled. In a statement by the Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, he announced that the proposals were neither ‘fair nor proportionate.’ Accordingly, the statutory instrument which was awaiting parliamentary approval has been withdrawn.
This is the second time in recent years that proposed increases in probate fees have been abandoned following considerable opposition from professionals, the media, charities and members of the public. A new fee scale was first devised in early 2017 and then again amended and reintroduced in November 2018. On both occasions there was a dramatic rise in the number of applications to the Probate Registry for grants which caused considerable pressure to practitioners in quickly preparing applications and also lengthy delays in obtaining the grants.
The proposed increase in probate fees was viewed by many in the profession as a back door stealth tax on the bereaved and not proportionate to the level of work involved in the Probate Registry issuing the grants.
This welcome news will hopefully reduce the current delay in obtaining grants and for the time being at least bring an end to the uncertainty caused to bereaved families. It remains to be seen whether another attempt will be made to raise probate fees again in the future – can lighting strike three times?
David Lea, Associate Solicitor
Private Client Team