In November 2018, the Ministry of Justice announced plans for a substantial change in the probate system which would see an enormous increase in probate applications fees for higher value estates.
Probate fees, which need to be paid if a grant of probate or letters of administration is needed in relation to the administration of someone’s estate after they die, have operated on a fixed fee basis since 1999. Currently, if the net amount passing under the grant is over £5,000 there is a set fee of £215 for personal applicants and £155 for applications from firms of solicitors.
The new proposals, which were due to be rolled on out 1 April 2019, are for probate fees to be paid on a sliding scale dependant on the value of the estate rather than the fixed fee.
Whilst there is good news under these proposals as the amount at which any fee becomes payable is to increase to £50,000, fees for applications for more valuable estates will rise. Whilst the increase will be modest for estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 (a rise of £95 to £250), there will be a much more substantial increase for larger estates, topping out at £6,000 (an increase of £5,845) for estates worth more than £2 million. These fees would be payable in addition to any inheritance tax due.
In the run up to 1st April, there has been uncertainty about the date on which these changes would take effect. It has now been announced that the necessary approval has not yet been obtained from parliament, and that once this has been provided, there will be a minimum 21 day notice period before these changes come into effect.
This gives some clarity and will enable applications for probate to proceed on the current basis until any further announcements are made.
Furthermore, when inheritance tax has to be paid, or a full inheritance tax account has to be submitted, it is usually necessary to submit this account, pay any inheritance and obtain a receipt from the inland revenue before it is possible to proceed with the application for the grant, and this extra step can cause the process to take a few weeks longer. To enable applications of this nature also to proceed prior to any change, It has therefore also been announced that as a temporary measure the probate office can proceed before the inland revenue has provided its form of receipt.
If you are in need of a grant of probate or letters of administration and wish to obtain it prior to the pending fee increase then we would be happy to assist you in providing a quick and efficient service. We are on hand to help with any queries you may have in regards to Wills, Probate and Estate Planning issues. Our Wills and Probate solicitors are based in our Wakefield, Dewsbury, Selby and Horsforth offices. Feel free to call us on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back.