This means that for now at least, the new fee structure will not come into force in May as previously planned. The current fee structure will remain in place which is £155 for solicitor applications and £215 for individual applications in all cases for estates that are larger than £5,000. There will continue to be no fee if the estate is below £5,000.
The new fees would have been determined by the size of the deceased’s estate on a sliding scale and could have been as high as £20,000 in some cases.
Pinney Talfourd has been closely covering this issue as the new fee structure was due to bring about a sharp increase in Probate fees for applications made after 1 May 2017.
The newly proposed fee structure for probate fees was recently reviewed by a Parliamentary Committee to consider whether it was a legitimate fee increase or whether it effectively amounted to a tax. The concerns raised were that if it did amount to a tax then it would be unlawful as the Lord Chancellor does not have the authority to introduce a tax without the consent of Parliament.
Despite these concerns, the Lord Chancellor announced that the Ministry of Justice would go ahead with the new fee structure, until today when it was announced there would be not be enough time to pass the new laws prior to general election.