Probate fees expected to increase dramatically in April

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By Stuart Downey

This blog is to discuss the proposed increase to the fee charged by the Probate Registry when making an application for a Grant of Probate (and similar grants).

At the moment, the fee is £155 if applying via a solicitor, or £215 for a Personal Application, where the value of the Estate is over £5,000. The fee is currently a flat one, no matter the value of the Estate.

Under the proposed new regime where the Estate value is less than £50,000 there will be no fee payable. However, the good news ends there. The government is trying to increase the fee for all other estates over £50,000. The Law Society has described the (somewhat ironically named) Non-Contentious Probate (Fees) Order as a ‘stealth tax’ rather than a fee to administer the service.

Usually this type of legislation would pass without issue, but there are rumours that Labour might force the legislation to a Commons vote. If the legislation passes, the cost of every estate where a grant is required and the value is above £50,000, will increase way above inflation.

Value of the Estate £ New Fee £ % increase compared to £215 fee % increase compared to £155 fee
       
50,000.01 – 300,000 250 116% 161%
       
300,000.01 - 500,000 750 348% 483%
       
500,000.01 - 1,000,000 1000 465% 645%
       
1,000,000.01 - 1,600,000 2500 1162% 1612%
       
1,600,000.01 - 2,000,000 4000 1860% 2580%
       
2,000,000.01 upwards 6000 2790% 3870%

 

According to the government, the changes will generate £145m for the Ministry of Justice in the next financial year and will be spent on improving the courts and tribunals service. If approved, the changes would come into force in April 2019.

Somewhat frustratingly, with April just around the corner, the government has not advised when in April the fee increase might come in.

With Brexit overshadowing all government business at the moment, it seems that there will inevitably be grieving families dealing with the shock and upset of losing a loved one, only to then be told they have to pay this new ‘stealth tax’.

For further information, please contact stuart.downey@twmsolicitors.com

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