Probate Fees Amendments Reviewed By Parliament

The fourteenth Delegated Legislation Committee are sitting today 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.

Whilst the Lords, various charitable organisations and The Law Society stand united in their opposition of the proposed fee amendments, it is likely to be approved by the Parliamentary committee today.

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.’

A Law Society Press Release has recommended:

  • Members of the House object to the Order on the following grounds:
    • The Order would impose an unjustifiable “stealth tax” on the bereaved;
    • That the Order is a misuse of the fee-levying power under section 180 of the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014; and
    • That the Order is likely ultra vires, as has been noted by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.
  • Members of the Fourteenth Delegated Legislation Committee to object to the Order, and to vote against the motion.
  • Other members of the House to attend the debate on 7 February and raise the concerns made in this briefing.
  • All members of the House to vote against the motion to approve the Order when it is moved in the House of Commons.

Simon Davis, Law Society vice-president, said: “The cost to the courts for granting probate does not change whether the estate is worth £50,000 or £2 million. The government can call it a service charge or a graduated fee but asking those who have larger estates to pay more is in effect a tax hike through the back door.”

A spokesperson from the Institute of Legacy Management, said: “We would still ask MP’s to consider whether the charges are justified. We also hope that the government will consider exempting charitable estates from the new charges.”

What impact will the amended fee rules have on the bereaved? Should the government have considered other alternatives?

1 Comment

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    I believe that if the government proceed with the raise in probate fees they need to give a valid reason as to why they are doing it. I work in the probate department of a law firm and, as stated in the article, cannot see that there is any difference in the amount of work that the Probate Registry does on a matter whether the estate be of low or high value. The only people involved in probate cases that do have a changeable workload are the solicitors appointed to deal with the matter. No thought whatsoever seems to have gone into how this would effect a bereaved family who are undoubtedly already in a state of distress (and possibly shock).

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