Massive hike in Probate fees

Despite overwhelming opposition from lawyers and other sectors the government is pushing ahead with a new fee structure for probate application fees. The increases are subject to Parliamentary approval but it is expected that they will be confirmed at some point during May. Once confirmed it is understood that they will come into effect very shortly afterwards and will apply to all probate applications made from that point on.

At present there is a fixed probate fee which is £155 for solicitor’s applications and £215 for personal applications. This applies to all estates where there are assets over £5000.

The new fee structure is as follows:

Net value of the estate for inheritance tax Proportion of estates in England and Wales Probate fee
Up to £50,000 or exempt 53% £0
More than £50,000 but less than £300,000 23% £300
More than £300,000 but less than £500,000 11% £1000
More than £500,000 but less than 1 million 6% £4000
More than 1 million but more than £1,600,000 1% £8000
More than £1,600,000 but less than 2 million 0.3% £12,000
More than 2 million 0.5% £20,000

The probate fee must be paid when an application for probate is made and it does not depend on the date of death.

This means that potentially a fee of up to £20,000 will have to be paid on application for a grant at a time when the executors do not have access to the deceased assets. It is therefore a concern as to how these fees will be met.

It is possible that banks and some other financial institutions may be able to pay the fees direct from the deceased funds. However for those whose possessions are mainly in assets such as property rather than funds in the bank, this could well mean problems for the executors.

It is important that executors of the estates where probate has not yet been granted to consider doing so as a matter of urgency before May. It is possible to apply even if there is some information missing and it may be possible to use estimated figures in the Inland Revenue form in some cases.

The private client team at Ridley & Hall would be happy to help in making urgent applications for probate and if you would like to discuss this matter further please call the private client team on 01484 538421