Hike in Probate Fees Questioned
It has been well-documented that the Government is planning to increase the cost of applying for a Grant of Probate from a fixed fee of £215 for a personal application (£155 if applying through a solicitor) to fees based on the value of the estate on a sliding scale, to a maximum fee of £20,000 for the largest estates.
This has been criticised throughout the legal industry and in particular by Solicitors for the Elderly, of which our Partner heading up the Estate Administration Team, Tania Clapham, is a member.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has scrutinised the draft legislation contained within Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order 2017 and has expressed doubts over the legality the Governments plans.
It is expected that the question of fees will be considered by Parliament after Easter, so a final conclusion is not as yet to hand.
Solicitors for the Elderly say:-
“We are delighted to see the Select Committee has confirmed what was clear from the offset – the Government’s probate fee hikes are nothing more than a backdoor tax, and the MOJ has acted beyond its powers in enforcing these changes.
“By proceeding with these fees, ministers point-blank ignored the views of almost every respondent involved in the consultation process. Since then, SFE has campaigned hard, alongside other organisations, to have these changes reviewed. Although it is unclear what this means for those currently applying for probate ahead of the deadline of 1st May, it seems likely there will be some sort of delay.
“Our hope now is that the Government re-evaluates these fees, and at the very least, finds a fairer way of structuring them”.
In any event, in order to ensure that all our clients are not caught out by the introduction of the new fees, Bennett Griffin’s team dealing with Estate Administration are working hard to ensure that wherever possible, all the applications for the Grant are submitted as soon as possible. We do not know with any certainty, of course, when or indeed, if, the new fees regime will come into effect, but our team is on hand to assist Executors in making the application not only quickly, but accurately, efficiently and in accordance with all the legal requirements.
If you are an Executor of an estate and have not yet obtained the Grant of Probate, please do not hesitate to contact one of our team or call 01903 706983