The Ministry of Justice announces there is not enough time for the newly proposed legislation to increase probate fees to be passed before the general election scheduled for 8 June.
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.
The new fee structure has been projected to raise an extra £256m each year which the government has said will be a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer. Whether those proposals have been abandoned or merely postponed until after the general election is not yet clear. Senior conservatives have declined to comment on whether these will come into force if Theresa May is re-elected.
Given the current uncertainty as to what will happen next, it would still be advisable to act quickly in dealing with Probate following the death of a loved one. If you need any help or guidance in dealing with Probate please do contact our Private Client team who will be happy to help.This article was written by Chris Dickinson, Solicitor in our Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate team at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of April 2017.