After months of delaying the implementation date for the new probate fees, the government has finally scrapped their plans. Law firms together with The Law Society vigorously campaigned against the changes which amounted to a ‘tax on grief’ and would have resulted in bereaved families paying an excessive amount of up to £6,000 for a grant of probate.
The government proposed to replace the current fixed fee of £215 for applications made without a solicitor and £155 for applications made with a solicitor to a sliding scale which would increase with the size of an estate up to a maximum of £6,000.
The changes to probate fees would have been an unfair burden on bereaved families who have no option but to apply for probate in order to deal with an estate. The government’s plans were further criticised as the charges were considered to be far beyond what is required to recover the cost of processing a probate application.
However, the government has abandoned the changes which were due to come into force next year. Whilst this news is greatly received by all, grieving families continue to face significant delays with their probate applications as a result of the government’s proposal. In anticipation of the increase in fees, district registries faced a surge in probate applications which, coupled with malfunctioning government software, resulted in 13 week delays in obtaining grants of probate.
Whilst the government has agreed to withdraw their proposals for now, they will continue to consider probate fees as part of their annual wider review.