Local solicitors object to huge hike in probate fees proposed by Government

By Sam Acourt in Community News

Solicitors in Kingsbridge are objecting to a huge hike in probate fees proposed by the Government, which could see charges rise 12,800 per cent.

Despite overwhelming objections to the consultation which took place earlier this year, subject to Parliamentary approval, the proposed increase is set to hit the courts in May of this year. It is likely that these increases will have a significant impact on the cost to administer an estate.

The cost to issue a Grant of Probate is currently £155 - a grant is essential to prove the personal representative’s entitlement to deal with the deceased’s assets - where a solicitor makes that application.

There will now be a scale introduced and the costs will range from between £300 and £20,000. The fee payable to the Probate Registry to issue the grant for an estate worth over £300,000 will be £1,000 and the cost to issue a grant for an estate valued at over £2million will be £20,000.

Sonia Hems, Beers LLP and full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, said: “Unfortunately, there is little public awareness of these increases and it is essential that the public become involved to add weight to the argument that this is an unfair and unjust further tax on death.

“A petition has been created which you can find at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175 if you wish to object to this increase, which the government is pressing ahead with in spite of opposition from over 97 per cent of those who responded to the consultation, please sign.

“For the time being our advice, is to get your application in to the court as soon as possible and if you require assistance in doing so please contact our friendly and helpful team at Beers.”

There is no difference to the amount of work the Court complete to issue a Grant for an estate valued at £100,000 or £800,000 yet the fees will be £3,700 more.

Claire Davis, director Solicitors for the Elderly, said: “SFE is extremely disappointed to see that the consensus to reject the proposed probate fees has been ignored.

“For the 62 per cent of estates that use a solicitor, probate registry performs a purely administrative role, and the value of the estate has no bearing on the work undertaken.

“To burden larger estates with a significantly larger fee is an unfair form of taxation. For people in this situation, their property is often their primary asset, and they have little cash to pay for higher probate fees, on top of other necessities such as IHT or the use of a solicitor.

“The increase in probate fees will place a burden on families at a sensitive and distressing time and is likely to put people who are vulnerable and/or elderly at risk. Our fear is that such clients might be persuaded to take steps to avoid probate fees, even if the effect is to leave them with insufficient assets to provide for themselves for the rest of their life.”

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