The Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018 is a statutory instrument which will bring into force a steep hike in probate fees. Currently, a flat fee of £155 for solicitors, or £215 for individuals, is payable to the probate registry. This fee will increase to between £250 and £6,000 depending on the value of the estate.
The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has responsibility for reviewing secondary legislation, and can highlight its concerns regarding new statutory instruments to parliament. The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee also has power to bring legislation to the attention of parliament. Both committees have raised concerns about the Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018, with the latter (The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee) describing the measure as a “stealth tax”.
For the measure to come into force, a majority vote of the House of Lords will be required. A committee in the House of Commons will also review the legislation.
Hugh James’s view is that the increase in probate fees needs more consideration. The measure will mean a sharp increase in fees for higher value estates, and there are practical concerns about how personal representatives will secure funding for probate fees, which have to be paid up-front. We are also of the view that charities will be unfairly disadvantaged by the new fees structure, as no charities exemption has been proposed.
The full report of the joint committee is expected to be published today.
The Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) are providing regular updates on the situation.
For more information on probate and what these changes may mean for you, please contact us.