Probate Court Fees Hike

You may have seen in the media that the fees charged by the Probate Registry on application for a grant are to increase sharply from May 2017 (the implementation date is yet to be announced).  This is despite strong opposition to the proposals from the legal profession during the government consultation, and a government admission that the Probate Registry is already self-funding on the existing fee structure.

At present, there is a universal fee of £155 for those applying through a solicitor (£215 for personal applicants).

As from May 2017, the fees will be scaled according to the size of the estate.  For an estate valued at £2 million or more, the fee increases to £20,000 – 129 times more.

The new fees are set out in full below.

George Hodgson, Chief Executive of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) said: ‘STEP is very disappointed that the Ministry of Justice has decided to ignore the view of both STEP and the overwhelming majority of respondents to this consultation and press ahead with what represents a new tax on bereaved families. …… ‘This is back door taxation and we note that there is not even an attempt in the MoJ’s response to justify the fairness of these new charges.’ [1]

Rural families with small farms are particularly badly affected as the high value of land is often not accompanied by significant cash reserves.  The legislation is still being drafted but at present it seems likely that even where estates are exempt from inheritance tax through agricultural and business property relief this back door tax will still be payable.

On a practical level, executors will be under pressure to apply for a grant, where possible, prior to the end of April and the implementation of the new fees.  If you have any concerns or queries please contact a member of our Probate team sooner rather than later – details via this link:

https://gabbs.biz/wills

Value of Estate                                 Proposed Fee

Up to £50,000                                    £0

Between £50k-£300k                          £300

Between £300k-£500k                        £1,000

Between £500k-£1m                          £4,000

Between £1m-£1.6m                         £8,000

Between £1.16m-£2m                       £12,000

More than £2m                                 £20,000

[1] http://www.step.org/press-releases/probate-fee-rise-new-tax-bereaved-families

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