Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order 2018 Officially Lapses
The Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order has officially lapsed.
It means that the current fixed fee of £215, or £155 when a solicitor is used, will not be replaced with a sliding scale rising to £6,000 depending on the estate’s value.
Ministers have decided to allow the Order, in its current form, to lapse as Brexit related issues and a prorogued parliament continue to delay less important laws from passing.
The news will be welcome relief to many as the proposed new probate fees made a huge impact when first introduced in November 2018.
The charity sector speculated losses in legacy gifts amounting to £10 million per year with those in opposition accusing the Government of dressing up a stealth death tax in the guise of the Order.
Since the initial momentum, the Bill’s progress has ground to a halt, with the original launch of the new probate fees in its current form in April now a distant memory.
A plethora of provisional dates for the hearing of the Non-Contentious Probate Fees Order 2018 failed to materialise in the last Parliamentary session due to more urgent Governmental business.
It is now likely that the Probate Fees Order 2018 will re-emerge with gusto in the new Parliamentary season following an outcome concerning the EU.
A strong factor for the lapsed Order might have been due to Law Society officials warning that the current draft contained technical errors which could have been exploited.
Simon Davis, Law Society president, commented:
“Not only would these charges have been excessive but they could have caused significant cash flow issues for the bereaved.”
“The cost to the courts does not change whether an estate is worth £50,000 or £2 million. Asking larger estates to pay more would have upped the level of inheritance tax by the back door.
“The Government’s decision to raise probate fees via statutory instrument was particularly concerning as it would have allowed the fee increases to bypass full parliamentary debate. This would have set a dangerous precedent.”
“It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the courts and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other option but to apply for probate.
“Should the order be reintroduced, we will continue to campaign against its introduction. This is a tax on grief.”
How costly would the Order have been to the Wills and Probate sector?