Last week, the Government announced that it has dropped its planned probate fee hike.

What are the current fees?

Fees are paid to the Probate Registry when you make an application for a Grant of Representation following someone’s death. Not all estates require a grant. However, if the estate includes a property or other significant assets, you are likely to require a grant.

Estates were under £5,000 do not attract a fee. For other estates, there is a flat fee:

  • £215 if you make the application yourself or
  • £155 if a solicitor makes the application for you.

What was the Government proposing?

We reported back in November 2018 about the Government’s plans to change the fees from a fixed £215 (or £155 if a solicitor makes the application) to a sliding scale. The scale was to depend on the value of the estate and went from no fee up to as high as £6,000. While the proposals would have meant that estates of up to £50,000 would not have had to pay any fee for a grant of probate, many estates of that size do not require a grant of probate anyway. Therefore whether anyone would have benefitted from this is questionable.

The Government planned to introduce the new fees in April 2019.

So what were the issues with the proposals?

The Government initially proposed a fee increase in February 2017, then dropped the proposal swiftly before the May 2017 general election.

Since the fees were suggested again in November last year, they have again faced a great deal of opposition. For instance, the Law Society has run a substantial campaign to stop the fee hike. They argued that the proposed increase was a “tax on grief”. The increased fees were likely to have caused cash flow issues for many bereaved people who were sorting their loved one’s estates. For example, those who are asset rich, but cash poor, such as pensioners and farmers.

Further objections were made as the government had stated that the new fees were to increase funding to the court service. It was argued by the Law Society (and others) that this was a misuse of the Lord Chancellor’s power to levy fees.

At Levi Solicitors LLP, we welcome this latest decision by the Lord Chancellor. He has announced that there will be a general review of court fees in the coming months. We will see whether this includes any adjustments to the probate fees and will keep you updated in our blog.

If you have any questions regarding estates or the probate fees, contact our probate team on 0800 988 7756.