November 5th (any significance in this date?) saw the announcement (completely separate from any Budget) of a sharp increase in the fee payable to obtain a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate is essentially a Court Order that allows the executors of a deceased’s Will to deal with their estate.
The new system was first proposed in February 2016 to replace the current flat fee of £215 or a slightly reduced fee of £155 in the case where a Solicitor applies.
From April 2019, the flat fee system will disappear to be replaced by a fee based on the value of the estate. While the fees will be substantially lower than originally proposed in February 2016, the change would still mean a very significant increase.
For instance, for an estate valued at £500,000 or under, the application fee will be £750. Go just a shade over £500,000 and the fee jumps to £2,500. Spare a thought, as well, for those executors dealing with an estate worth over £2,000,000 where the fee simply to apply for a Grant of Probate will be £6,000.
Generally, probate has to be obtained before the Executors can access any of the funds within the estate (save in some circumstances for the payment of Inheritance Tax direct by banks). It remains to be seen how Executors will go about funding the greatly increased fees.
It is not yet known whether the fees for Solicitor applications will be subject to the same fees or slightly ‘discounted’ as they are now.
The only ‘silver lining’ is that with an estate valued at £50,000 or less, there will be no fee.
The detail will, we hope, become clearer as next April approaches, although something tells us that the country may be busy dealing with rather more major upheaval around that time as Brexit should be upon us by then!
We anticipate a rush to obtain probate in cases where it is needed during the spring of next year. If you have any questions about the new fees or probate generally, please contact Gary Ovey on 01208 72328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org