As you may be aware, the government was considering changing the probate fees from a flat rate of £215 (or £155 through a solicitor) to one proportionate to the size of the deceased’s estate.
This could have seen some bereaved families paying up to £6,000 for a Grant of Probate, on top of any Inheritance Tax due.
This proposal was met with outrage from the legal profession which accused the government of introducing a “stealth tax” as the proposed fees did not reflect the cost of processing the applications. Indeed, the process is largely the same for every application, regardless of the size of the estate.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed that they have “listened very carefully to the strong views aired” about these plans and, as a result, they have been abandoned.
President of the Law Society, Simon Davis, has welcomed this decision and said: ‘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”.
When the government first announced their intention to change the fees, there was a huge surge of applications for Grants of Probate. At the same time, the Probate Registry suffered a software malfunction and this combination led to substantial delays.
Unfortunately, there remains a considerable backlog at the Probate Registry and so the delays are currently ongoing.