Probate Fee Increase
In November 2018, the government revived its proposed change to probate fees from a flat fee of £215 (£155 for applications by solicitors) to a banded structure based on the value of the estate which passes under the will.
At the time of writing there is no date for the House of Commons to consider the proposals, which are as follows:-
Value of the estate (excluding joint property and assets held in trust)
Up to £50,000 (this is £5,000 under the present fee structure)
Up to £300,000
Up to £500,000
Up to £1,000,000
Up to £1,600,000
Up to £2,000,000
The Ministry of Justice believes 25,000 estates each year will not have to pay a fee, and 80% of estates will pay £750 or less.
Higher fees were originally due to come in to effect in May 2017, but there was condemnation from all sides that they were a stealth tax. The general election intervened and the plans were dropped.
The reason for the proposed increase, according to the Ministry of Justice, is to fund the court system as a whole, not because the cost of issuing a Grant is higher where the estate is larger.
In December 2018, the House of Lords voted in favour, but expressed regret at the government’s misuse of fee levying powers, particularly since the new online application process (now available for personal applicants) means the costs should go down.
Another recent change to grant applications, which has now taken effect, is the statement of truth which replaces the sworn oath.
Readers may wish to keep an eye on the media to find out if the fee increase is going to happen, and discuss with our private client lawyers how it might affect them personally or as an executor.