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Legal News | 15.10.19

A Reprieve on Grant of Representation Fee

Reprieve of Representation Fees

The Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland has announced that threatened plans to significantly increase probate fees have been scrapped.

The announcement at the end of 2018 that the current fixed fee of £155 (£215 for personal applications) would be replaced by a sliding fee scale, which would see the most valuable estates paying £6,000 to obtain a grant of representation, sparked outrage throughout the country. Fortunately, it appears that the Government has at last listened to the various organisations and the members of the public who have campaigned against the proposal and has shelved them for the time being.

The announcement to scrap the proposal particularly benefits the charity sector, who were expected to lose out on as much as £10,000,000 a year in legacy income through the additional fees, as well as bereaved families who claimed that the proposal would have been a “tax on grief”.

However, not everyone will be happy about the U-turn on the decision. Under the proposal, those whose estates are worth under £50,000 would not have had to pay a fee to obtain a grant of representation, compared with the current £5,000 benchmark.

While the plan (in its current form) to increase fees has been put on hold for the foreseeable future, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that probate fees will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the fees associated with applying for a grant of representation remain “fair and proportionate”.

It is therefore possible that the proposals will re-emerge as part of the Government’s plans to fund improvements to the courts service. However, given that over 97% of respondents (lawyers, experts and members of the public) to the Ministry of Justice’s own consultation paper opposed the proposals in their current form, it is to be hoped that if the Government does revisit the subject of probate fees, it will take note of the concerns raised by professionals and grieving families alike and will produce a more reasonable fee reform proposal.

If you have any questions regarding probate fees, please get in touch with your usual contact at Wansbroughs or email wealth@wansbroughs.com