22 February, 2019
From April 2019 there will be a significant increase in the fees charged by the Probate Registry for processing applications for Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration.
At present, probate fees are a flat fee of £215 for applications made by individuals and £155 for applications made by solicitors, regardless of the size of the estate. The new fees will be on a sliding scale based on the value of the estate and would introduce a maximum charge of £6,000 on estates valued at over £2million. A charge of £750 would be levied on estates between £300,000 and £500,000 and £2,500 on estates between £500,000 and £1million.
The value of an estate below which no fee is payable will rise from £5,000 to £50,000, which the Government has indicated will lift around 25,000 estates annually out of fees altogether.
In a written statement to Parliament, Lucy Frazer MP said: "This new banded fee model represents a fair and more progressive way to pay for probate services compared to the current flat fee and reflects our commitment to protecting access to justice by ensuring we have a properly funded and resourced courts system".
Whilst this is lower than the previous proposals introduced in 2016, which would have seen a maximum charge of £20,000 on an estate valued at over £2million, it is still a significant increase and has come up against a lot of opposition on the grounds that it is a stealth tax. It appears that the Government has made no assessment of the actual cost of administering probate applications for high value estates to justify the increase in fees - the costs of obtaining probate in larger estates would be significantly more than the actual costs incurred by the court.
For more information contact Jane Burbidge in our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts department via email or phone on 01772 220156. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.