Yesterday the government announced plans to increase probate fees will not come in to force next year.
The controversial proposal to increase fees up to £6,000 was revealed earlier this year to widespread public and professional dismay. The increase, which some described as “an additional tax on the bereaved”, was originally due to come in to force in April 2019 but was then pushed back to 2020.
The government’s plans meant that the Probate Registries were inundated with applications before April 2019 which, together with a change of computer system, has seen the time taken to issue Grants of Representation increase from 2 weeks to up to 3 months. This has left many clients in limbo whilst they wait for Grants to be issued and has therefore delayed the administration of estates, property sales and the ability for family and friends to move on following a death.
News of the U-turn will be welcomed by those currently going through the probate, as it was difficult to understand how the government was going to justify a price increase from £155 to £6,000 with clients receiving no discernible difference in service.
However, the Court system is underfunded and the increase in fees was intended to support other areas of the Court, so whether the proposed changes will be revived in the future remains to be seen.
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