Proposals To Reform Probate Fees

The Government has recently announced plans to increase fees payable for an application for a grant of probate with effect from 1 April 2019, which they expect to raise an additional £145 million a year from 2019/20 to contribute towards the operational costs of the court.  A new charging structure was previously under consultation in 2016, but was deferred following the general election in June 2017.  The initial proposals were for higher fees but these met with strong opposition at the time and have now been reduced to the figures shown below.

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 (before Inheritance Tax)

Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate – £0

Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000 – £250

Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000 – £750

Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1m – £2,500

Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m – £4,000

Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m – £5,000

Exceeds £2m – £6,000

There will also be a cap on fees at no more than 0.5% of the value of the estate.

The proposals, will lead to an 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.

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