Increase in Probate Fees scrapped - for now

April 2017

Back in April 2016 Rob Lynn, Private Client solicitor, wrote an article for the firm’s website about a proposed increase in fees charged by the Courts Service to executors for obtaining a grant of probate. That article can be found here . The proposal included plans to raise the fee from £155 to £20,000 for the largest estates, and sparked fears that the elderly would begin disposing of assets during their lifetimes to avoid the charges.

We learnt this morning that in light of the recently announced General Election on 8th June, the planned increase has been scrapped, just days before it was due to come into effect, as it is now not possible for the legislation introducing the new fees to be passed before the dissolution of Parliament on 3rd May, due to lack of time for the bill to pass through both houses. We are already seeing unusually long delays at the Probate Registries for our clients, and this is undoubtedly due to a wave of executors putting in applications for probate ahead of the new fees coming into force.

This latest move follows a challenge from a parliamentary committee earlier this month to the legality of the proposed increase, and reservations expressed by professional bodies.

Although executors may breathe a sigh of relief for the time being, it remains to be seen whether the increase will resurface after the election. This will probably depend to a large extent on the outcome of the election, and what other pressures are placed on parliamentary time in its wake.