Since April 2019, we have been waiting to hear when the government’s proposed increases to probate fees will take effect. Under the draft legislation, the fees were due to increase significantly from £155 for solicitors or £215 for personal applicants, to a sliding scale of between £250 and £6,000, depending on the value of the estate.
As yet, it has not been possible for the required final vote on the legislation to take place, as the government has been preoccupied with Brexit. Now that Parliament has been prorogued, the vote to approve the fee increase has lapsed.
This is the second time that proposals to increase probate fees have been put on hold. Back in 2016, the government held a consultation on fee increases that were intended to take effect in May 2017. The proposed increases at that time were even larger, with a scale of £300 to £20,000. Those proposals were shelved due to a general election.
The proposals to increase fees in April 2019 led to an influx of applications to probate registries, resulting in backlogs which have meant significant delays in grants of probate being issued. These probate registry delays have yet to be resolved.
It seems likely that the government will reintroduce the fee increases at some point, as the Ministry of Justice had previously stated the additional income was needed to provide funding for the courts service as a whole. For the time being, though, probate applicants can enjoy the reprieve.