Oratto, the legal services website that matches consumers to the right lawyer for their particular needs, has launched a fixed-fee probate quote engine which provides consumers with the ability to compare quotes for probate. Customers could save four figure sums on probate fees and, crucially, are empowered to find the solicitor who is right for their particular situation.
With the launch of its fixed-fee probate quotation system, Oratto offers consumers with unprecedented level of ease, efficiency and pricing transparency when finding and comparing quotes for fixed-fee probate services. The process is simple to use and, once the detailed but quick-fire questionnaire is complete, users are presented with a selection of named lawyers, each offering a fixed-fee quote for services based on the information provided.
It is troubling that it's possible that ministers may be giving some consideration to resurrect plans to increase probate fees by up to £20,000; despite these being quietly shelved due to the early General Election in May.
This comes despite the fact that there has been very little in the way of appetite either from lawyers or the general public with regards to the move. Many believe the move flies in the face of British aspirational values while also hitting the pockets of hardworking families and threatening both the financial and emotional legacies of older generations.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed today (21/4/17) that the proposals for increasing the application fee for a Grant of Probate have been shelved.
Following the announcement of a snap election for June 8 2017, the lack of parliamentary time left to deal with outstanding matters before dissolving in early May means the introduction of the controversial fees will be halted.
The Ministry of Justice recently provoked consternation with news that it would introduce a massive hike in probate fees for those estates valued over £50,000. Currently the fee is £155 (if grant of probate is obtained through a solicitor) or £210 (if an individual applies).
However, with the increase in place, fees will range from £300 to a whopping £20,000, with the higher sum applicable for estates valued at £2 million or over and, depressingly, the Government Response to the consultation on fee reform makes clear what the real reason is for the proposed increases: "a properly funded courts and tribunals service".
However you want to characterise it, if we are indeed in the post-truth age or the era of "alternative facts" it is likely that it would be, by definition, so confusing a state of affairs that we would be unable to tell. But the sheer brazenness of the government‘s budget announcing a May 1st hike in Grant of Probate "court fee" does feel indicative of a huge disconnect between policy and reality, and as such is couched in suitably misleading language. But make no mistake it is a tax on death that strikes right to the heart of families, their sense of security, their sense of self-worth and their self-reliance. We should not be surprised if ultimately it undermines families, their connection to their land and their legacies.
Currently the probate process is, basically, fair. Probate solicitors have to pay a flat rate of £155 when making probate applications, while personal representatives who manage the process themselves pay a slightly higher £205. But with the new banding fees to be calculated before inheritance tax settlement, estates will soon face bills of thousands of pounds while those worth in excess of £2 million will be saddled with probate fee bills of £20,000.