It has been confirmed that fees for probate applications are set to increase up to £20,000 from May 2017. Our Partner Matthew Edwards explains more.
On 24 February, the Ministry of Justice published its response to a recent consultation regarding an increase in fees for probate applications.
The current fee charged by the Probate Registry to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is fixed at £155 for solicitor applications and £215 for lay person applications. There is currently no Probate Registry fee if the value of the estate is below £5,000.
The consultation held by the Ministry of Justice proposed the introduction of a banded fee structure linked to the value of a deceased person’s estate. The government has stated that careful consideration has been given to these proposals and determined that the increase was necessary for the courts and tribunal system to continue to provide access to justice in the long term.
The new fee structure is expected to come into force in May 2017 and the increase in fees is projected to raise an extra £256m each year which the government has said will contribute to cutting the national debt.
Inevitably the new fee structure will attract widespread criticism and will add to the existing perceived unfairness of the Inheritance Tax regime. The added practical difficulty is that seemingly the Probate Registry will not issue a Grant of Representation until the Probate fee has been paid. This may not be practical as it is not always possible to access a deceased person’s assets until the Grant of Representation has been issued. It remains to be seen if banks will agree to release funds directly the Probate Registry prior to the Grant of Representation being issued but reasonable to expect that they will given that they are already willing to release funds for the purposes of settling Inheritance Tax or funeral costs. However, estates that comprise non-liquid assets may need to explore other means of raising funds to enable the Grant of Representation to be issued.
Dealing with probate can often be the last thing on a family’s mind when grieving for a lost loved one. However given the imminent introduction of the new Probate Fee structure it is important to progress the administration as soon as possible. From the commencement of the administration of an estate it can typically it can take 6 – 8 weeks to be in a position to apply for a Grant of Representation. Therefore time is of the essence if you are currently dealing with an estate.
Pinney Talfourd has an experienced team of Probate specialists who are able to assist you with the administration of an estate. For a no obligation telephone consultation or meeting, please call Matthew Edwards on 01708 255174 or complete our form and let us contact you.
This article was written by Matthew Edwards, Partner and Head of the Wills, Tax, Trusts and Probate team at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of February 2017.