4 October 2019 | Comment | Article by Eleanor Evans TEP
I wrote recently about the draft legislation to increase probate fees having lapsed, due to the proroguing of Parliament. Following the historic Supreme Court judgment in which the Supreme Court decided that the decision to prorogue Parliament was unlawful, Parliament has resumed and, from a legal perspective, it is as if the prorogation never took place.
This means the Probate Fees Order has not, in fact, lapsed, and is still awaiting debate by Parliament. When this debate is likely to take place is, of course, another matter given the current issues facing Parliament.
Under the draft legislation, probate fees will increase from £155 (for solicitors’ applications) or £215 (for personal applications), to a sliding scale of between £250 and £6,000, depending on the value of the estate. The proposals have met with widespread criticism from industry sector organisations.
Meanwhile, HM Courts and Tribunals Service has now rolled out its online probate application service to all legal professionals, following a pilot. Solicitors can now apply for probate online in most cases. Whilst this will not speed the process (which at present remains painfully slow), it will enable solicitors to track their applications online. This is a welcome development, meaning solicitors will not need to telephone the probate registry for updates, which should help registries clear the remaining backlog of applications (for more on the backlog, see my earlier post).