Probate Fees set to rise

A decision has been made by the Government to change the probate applications fee structure commencing in May 2017.

The purpose of the fee increase is to raise funds of approximately £300m which will be invested directly into Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to streamline its efficiently, and ultimately, deliver a better service to the public and professionals. However, this is not necessarily for the Probate Registry which is largely self-funding from the fees it receives.

Currently, probate court fees are as follow:

  • £155 (application through a solicitor) or
  • £215 (personal application)

In comparison, the proposed new fees are eye-watering:

  • £0 (estates worth £0 to £50,000)
  • £300 (estates worth (50,001 to £300,000)
  • £1,000 (estates worth £300,001 to £500,000)
  • £4,000 (estates worth £500,001 to £1,000,000)
  • £8,000 (estates worth £1,000,001 to £1,600,000)
  • £12,000 (estates worth £1,600,001 to £2,000,000)
  • £20,000 (estates worth more than £2,000,001)

These fees mean smaller estates worth up to £50,000 will have no fee, although estates such as this are unlikely to require a Grant.

Concerns have been voiced from many quarters from those who recognise it will be difficult for executors to raise enough capital up front to pay the new probate fees as the new fees appear to work on the assumption that executors of estates worth over £2million will have £20,000 in their own back pockets.

The key date in a probate application will be the date of the application rather than the date of death which adds some pressure on the executors to act fast.

There are only six weeks remaining before the changes take effect, therefore, if you are aware of any new estates/intestacies, either on a personal or professional basis, it is important to consider taking prompt action to avoid paying a high court fee.

Emma Elwess at Pearsons & Ward (part of Ware & Kay Solicitors with offices in Malton, York & Wetherby) has written to her local MP and urges others to do the same. Solicitors for the Elderly Group are encouraging their members to lobby hard against the increase.  On the back of this, a petition has been set up, and we would encourage you all to sign this on the link below.