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Increase in Probate Court Fees

Posted on Apr 06, 2017

Probate Court fees are set to increase dramatically from May this year.  The exact date is yet to be confirmed, depending on how quickly the proposals pass through Parliament.  The Probate Court fees are the fees payable to the Probate Registry on an application for a Grant of Probate (where there is a Will) or a Grant of Letters of Administration (if there isn’t a Will), both of which are commonly known as a Grant.

Proposed fee scales

A Grant is not always required, but when it is, it is the legal document which proves the personal representatives' authority to administer an individual's estate. 

The fee payable at present on application for any Grant, irrespective of the value of the estate, is £155 when applying through a solicitor or £215 for a personal application. The new fee structure will depend on the value of the estate and will be based on a sliding scale as set out below:

Value of estate (before inheritance tax)

Proposed Fee

Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate

£0

Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000

£300

Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000

£1,000

Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1m

£4,000

Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m

£8,000

Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m

£12,000

Above £2m

£20,000

As can be seen from the table above, this amounts to an increase of over 12,000% for estates valued in excess of £2m.

When will the fee be payable?

The fee is payable on an application for a Grant.

What if the personal representatives cannot access funds from the deceased’s estate to pay the court fee?

The fee has to be paid when you submit an application for the Grant.  Most assets may not be accessed until the grant is issued.  As a result an increasing number of personal representatives may be forced to use their own personal funds or to take out a commercial loan in order to fund the required fee. This may slow the process down and may cost the estate more in administrative fees and interest payments.   It may be possible for the deceased’s bank to release money they hold, in order to pay the court fee, but this would be at the bank’s discretion, and is not guaranteed to be agreed.

It is possible to apply to the Probate Registry for a limited Grant, which is a Grant limited to the personal representatives to sell a specific asset or assets to raise sufficient funds to pay the court fees, but this will mean an additional expense in administering the estate.  It is not yet clear what the fee would be for this, so it could be just as problematic.

What can personal representatives do to mitigate paying the increased fee?

The fees are being introduced from sometime in May so the sooner any application for a Grant is made the better and in any case before the end of April.

Once the new fee structure is brought in, there will be nothing that personal representatives can do to minimise or avoid paying the fee.

Can I do anything now to reduce the impact of these fees on my estate?

Should I review my Will?

Yes, we recommend that you review your Will, as there are other changes which have taken place and we always advise clients to review their Wills on a regular basis - at least once a year or more if necessary.

Disclaimer

This document is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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