The Government has recently announced a consultation, proposing an increase in fees payable for an application for a grant of probate, which they expect to raise an additional £250 million a year to contribute towards the operational costs of the court.
At present, applications for grants of probate are set at £155 when a grant of probate is sought by a solicitor and £215 when the application is made by an individual. Estates that require probate, but are worth less than £5,000 do not currently have to pay a fee.
The proposal is to move away from the flat rate scheme to a banded fee approach, which is proportionate to and rising with, the value of the estate.
The proposed charging structure is as follows:
Value of Estate
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
Exceeds £2m – £20,000
It is proposed that the design stage for the new Probate Service will start in April 2016 and should be completed by April 2017. The new service will enable applications for grant of probate to be made entirely online by the Executors of the Will and would therefore remove the need to visit a court or a firm of solicitors to swear oaths or lodge papers.
The proposals, if implemented could see a significant increase in probate fees payable for estates valued in excess of £50,000. There may be planning opportunities available to help mitigate the effect of the proposed increases in probate fees and the Partners at Gibbons would be pleased to discuss these further with you.
As an example, it is worth noting that a grant of probate is not required for any assets that are owned by the deceased with other persons as “beneficial joint tenants”. This form of ownership, for example between a husband and wife over the marital home, means that the property would pass automatically to the remaining spouse without the need for probate to be obtained and therefore no fee would be payable.