As I have previously reported, the Government was due to implement a new fee structure when applying for a grant of probate on 1st April 2019 but this has not yet happened, so what exactly is going on?
The current Probate Registry fee, if applying through a solicitor, is £155.00 (£215.00 if you are applying without help from a solicitor). This is a flat fee regardless of the size of the deceased person’s estate.
The Government has a policy of making the court service self-funding. In 2016 it proposed to introduce a new fee structure based on a sliding scale according to the size of the estate. The new fees ranged from £300 to £20,000.
Unsurprisingly the majority of the consultation responses received opposed the increase on the basis that the cost of the fee should not exceed the cost to the court of delivering the service and that the service was exactly the same regardless of the value of the estate and, as such, the fee amounted to a tax on the most wealthiest estates.
Notwithstanding this, the Government pressed ahead to implement the new fees. However, there was insufficient Parliamentary time to pass the Bill and to make the new fees law before the 2017 general election.
In 2018 a further draft Bill proposing to increase the current fee under a new sliding scale structure was laid before Parliament. This time the following fees were proposed:
– No fee for estates valued at below £50,000;
– Fees on a sliding scale of between £250 and £6,000.
The new Bill is still awaiting Parliamentary approval. A date has not yet been fixed but, when it is made law, the new fees will come into force 21 days after. It is not clear when the new fees will come into effect as issues surrounding Brexit are taking precedence in allocating Parliamentary time.
On occasions we have come across personal representatives who have delayed in applying for probate for a variety of reasons.
The probate registry are currently experiencing long delays in making grants of probate and letters of administration due to a new computer system introduced earlier this year. As such, if the new fees become law either before you have applied for probate or before the probate registry have got round to dealing with your application you may find that the higher fee will become payable.
If you wish to discuss any issue surrounding applying for probate please contact us on 0114 249 6666.