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Probate fee hike scrapped

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The Government has agreed to scrap a planned hike of probate registry fees that would have seen bereaved families pay up to £6,000 for Grants of Representation (including Grants of Probate).

Instead of the current fixed fee of £215 - or £155 with a solicitor – probate registry fees would have been linked to the value of the deceased’s estate, as part of a sliding scale, up to a maximum of £6,000.

However, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has now decided to cancel plans for the price increase, which was first introduced under Prime Minister Theresa May in 2016.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said, “Fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, but we have listened carefully to concerns around changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate.”

Many organisations, including the Law Society, have campaigned against the price hike, calling it a ‘tax on grief’ that would be inherently unfair, as it would require bereaved families to fund other parts of the court system.

With the price increase expected in April this year, there was an inevitable increase in applications for Grants of Representation in March, as people raced to beat the supposed deadline. This influx coincided with a change in the IT systems used by the probate registries, which caused technical glitches with the software and printing systems. The combination of these problems meant that solicitors across the country have faced delays of sometimes up to 13 weeks in getting Grants of Representation issued.

As we reported in September, HM Courts and Tribunals Service has increased their staff by 20% and are working hard to get things back to their pre-March levels of turnaround. We look forward to things returning to normal soon. We are already starting to see improvements from the Leeds District Probate Registry, and are generally receiving Grants back in four-six weeks.

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