Parliamentary Committee Just About Vote In Probate Fee Changes

The fourteenth Delegated Legislation Committee sat yesterday to consider the case for the statutory instrument that will change the current non-contentious probate fees from a fixed amount to a sliding scale. The committee voted in the proposed changes to probate fees by eight votes to nine.

This was the final stage in the process that started on November 5th last year and will mean that the fees will increase as proposed.

Whilst the Lords, various charitable organisations and The Law Society stand united in their opposition of the proposed fee amendments, the decision today will mean that probate fees will adopt the new structure in April this year.

Many believe that the huge increase in fees, that will rise incrementally from £250 up to £6,000, amounts to a tax on death, with the value of your property determining the amount you are liable to pay.

The Law Society have staunchly opposed the fee changes claiming that the amended fees are a ‘misuse of the Lord Chancellor’s fee-levying power.’

Furthermore, they have argued that the increase ‘is disproportionate’ and that ‘It is unfair to expect the bereaved to fund or subsidise other parts of the court and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other options but to use the probate service.’

Ian Bond, chair of the law society’s wills and equity committee: “The Law Society has campaigned against the new fees being introduced and are very disappointed by the decision of the committee. These proposals needed proper scrutiny by the House of Commons.

“This is an introduction of a new tax on death by stealth.

“The law society will review its options but in the short term our focus now shifts to engaging with the Ministry of Justice to have a sensible introduction of the new regime to avoid a deluge of IHT forms to HM Revenue & Customs and an overwhelming number of probate applications going into HM Courts and Tribunal Service.

“Bad news all round.”

What will this news mean for grieving families? What are the implications for estates that are property rich but cash poor?

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