The government have recently published a new policy drastically increasing probate court fees. The policy was subject to consultation last year and, despite the vast majority of respondents to the consultation opposing the fees increase, the government have decided to proceed with the changes.
A probate court fee is payable when an application is made to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate. Currently, the fee is £155 if the application is made by a solicitor and £215 if made by an individual. From May, the fee will be based on the value of the estate:
|0 – £50,000
|£50,001 – £300,000
|£300,001 – £500,000
|£500,001 – £1million
|£1,000,001 – £1.6million
|£1,600,001 to £2million
For the largest estates, this will result in a drastic increase in probate court fees of over 9000%. Given house prices in London and the South East, it is easy to see that this will affect many people who live in the local area.
The new fees are due to come in from May this year but are currently subject to parliamentary approval and so the exact date is unknown. The key date for calculating whether the old or new fees apply will be the date the Probate Registry receives the application regardless of the actual date of death. These proposed increases have led to much pressure on bereaved families, solicitors, and the Court Service as there is now a rush to submit applications before May in an effort to beat the fees increase.
These fees are due to apply even if the deceased person’s entire estate passes to a spouse or charity. If a person leaves their entire estate to charity the estate is exempt from inheritance tax; however, under current proposals it could have to pay £20,000 in court fees therefore potentially costing charities thousands of pounds in revenue.
There are also no proposals for the fee to be payable in instalments and so it is easy to see how this could cause problems for bereaved families.
If you wish to discuss the increase in probate court fees further then please contact a member of the Private Client team.