Government abandons planned probate fee increase

The Government has abandoned its plans to increase probate fees following a campaign by experts and associations to scrap the fee hike.

The plans would have seen some bereaved families pay up to £6,000, while some experts described the increase as a “tax on grief”.

Plans were announced in November 2018 to replace the current fixed fee structure with a sliding scale format.

The new system would have abolished fees for estates worth less than £50,000, while supersizing the fees for estates worth £2 million or more.

But the Government has now taken a U-turn on the plans, stating that probate fees will be reviewed as part of the annual assessment of charges in family and civil courts.

Simon Davis, President of the Law Society, said: “It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the courts and tribunal service when they have no other option but to apply for probate.

“In its review of court fees Government should bear in mind that it is a false economy to impose charges that go beyond cost recovery. Equal access to justice is a fundamental part of the rule of law.”

This follows the news that HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced that it will be rolling out a national online probate service pilot scheme.

Policymakers stated that the move will enable legal professionals to apply online for any probate, intestacy of a grant of letters of administration with a will-annexed application.

Priti Shah, Partner at OGR Stock Denton, said: “It is good news that Government has made a decision on this as the uncertainty surrounding the proposed hike to probate fees was putting the courts and practitioners under enormous pressure.”

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