Government scraps controversial fee hike

Government scraps controversial fee hike

Posted by Lucy Gordon, on October 15, 2019.

The government’s recent u-turn on a rise in probate fees is undoubtedly good news for anybody who will be responsible for administering the estate of a deceased family member or friend.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of probate is an official document that gives a named executor the authority to deal with the property of a deceased person. The term is often used (and will be in this Note) to include a grant of representation which is the equivalent document needed by an administrator if someone dies without a will (an intestacy).

Changes to the process

The government’s proposal would have seen families paying up to £6,000 to obtain a grant of probate. Although also proposed raising the threshold for probate fees from £5,000 to £50,000 which would have meant around 25,000 estates would be free from probate fees altogether, it is estimated that the change in legislation would have meant higher charges for around 280,000 families annually.

The current fixed fee is £215, or £155 if a  solicitor is applying for you.

The government this week dropped the plans which were due to come in to force next year following backlash from the public and organisations such as STEP and the Law Society.

Implications

There was concern as to how executors of an estate would be able  to fund the fee if the estate comprised  substantial property and little cash. It was thought that this would lead to executors aiming to avoid obtaining a grant, with the effect that estates would either be left unadministered or transferred to the beneficiaries without properly considering the terms of the will.

Moving Forward

While this controversial overhaul of the probate fee system has been dropped, it draws focus onto the importance of obtaining proper legal advice both when carrying out your own estate planning and drawing up your will; and when administering the estate of a family member or loved one.

For more information about any of the issues raised in this article please contact Lucy Gordon on 01295 204045 or email lgordon@se-law.co.uk

*Disclaimer: While everything has been done to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this article, it is a general guide only. It is not comprehensive and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought in relation to the particular facts of a given situation.