Trading as Avery Walters Solicitors 
Trading as Powell Eddison Solicitors 
Laura Stafford of Avery Walters discusses the recent decision made to scrap plans which would have seen significant increases to probate fees for many families across England and Wales. 
Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland has announced that plans to increase probate fees proposed by former Prime Minister Theresa May have been scrapped. 
The changes would have seen an increase from the current flat fee of £215 when making an application personally or £155 if through a solicitor to a whopping maximum of £6,000 dependent on the value of the estate. 
In a statement Buckland stated he had decided that plans were not ‘fair of proportionate’ and the statutory instrument which was awaiting parliamentary approval will now be withdrawn. 
The plan was first mooted in early 2017 and delayed due to a general election and scrapped. 
In November 2018 the plan was suggested again, but with a maximum cap of £6,000 as opposed to the earlier £20,000 cap for the largest estates. The matter was then again delayed due to Brexit taking the forefront. 
Both proposals were met with opposition from the media, general public, charities, various MPS, and professionals, concerned with how families were going to be able to deal with the administration of an estate and access the relevant funds to pay for a severely increased probate fee. 
The considerable opposition was largely down to the fact the cost of providing the service was currently met by the existing fee structure. The proposed uplift was seen by most as another form of inheritance tax via the back door or stealth tax. 
It would put families under considerable pressure and strain at a time when they were trying to grieve. 
Obviously, the proposed changes triggered a rush of application causing a serious backlog at probate registries. Application were taking approximately 2-3 weeks to be returned with applications now being returned between 8-12 weeks. 
Avery Walters are delighted that these worrying plans have been scrapped and can now look forward to assisting our clients with administering estates without concerns of how to fund probate fees. 
The next annual review of court fees will consider small adjustments to probate fees. 
Laura Stafford 
Private Client Solicitor 
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* Laura Stafford is the SFE accredited memberand a full member of STEP 
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