Changes in probate fees revealed
Changes in probate fees announced by the government
On 5th November 2018, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice, Lucy Frazer QC MP, revealed an update on probate fees. It was announced that new legislation to implement a new banded structure of fees for a Grant of Probate (also known as Grant of Representation) has been presented before Parliament. If the proposal is passed by the government, it will allow people to apply for a Grant of Probate online, provide support for those who do not have the skills to apply digitally, result in changes to the current flat fee for obtaining a Grant of Probate and change the current estate value threshold to increase from £5,000 to £50,000.
In February 2017, the government announced a plan to introduce tiered fees for obtaining a Grant of Probate which would be based on the estate value. There were a number of concerns that this would be unfair, as probate fees would not be relative to the cost of the work involved. The latest announcement recognises these concerns and the probate fees have now been revised so that they will never cost more than 0.5% of the estate value.
This announcement reveals that raising the estate value threshold from £5,000 to £50,000 would annually prevent around 25,000 estates from being liable to probate fees. The proposal suggests that approximately 80% of estates will pay £750 or less in probate fees. Currently, the value of the deceased’s estate is irrelevant, and individuals pay a flat fee of £215, whilst professional bodies are charged £155 for probate applications. However, the new, banded fees will start from £250 and may reach a maximum of £6,000.
The government announced that any income generated from probate fees will be spent on “funding an effective, modern courts and tribunals service.”
The new system appears to be making changes in order to keep up with the digital society of today. Lucy Frazer QC MP announced that members of the public will soon be able to apply for a Grant of Probate online. However, they have recognised that not all applicants will have the skills needed to make a digital application and plan to provide support. The aim is to make it easier for individuals to make applications themselves, avoiding unnecessary legal charges for a solicitor to complete on their behalf. It is expected that this proposed new system will come into force from April 2019.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information on the changes to probate fees.