Probate Fees Set To Rise
The Government has confirmed that it plans to proceed with proposals to make changes to probate fees in England and Wales. This will see the fee payable on making an application for probate changing from being a flat fee to a banded system where the fee is dependent on the value of the estate. This is likely to result in a significant increase in the fee payable for a large number of estates.
The current system is that there is a fixed fee to make an application for probate of £215.00 for a personal application or £155.00 when applying through a solicitor. The changes will mean that the fee will be linked to the value of the estate, with small value estates (less than £50,000.00) paying no fee but those over £50,000.00 paying up to £20,000.00.
The proposals have met with widespread opposition from legal professionals who have pointed out that not only is this unfair but there are likely to be administrative problems. The fee has to be paid before the Grant of Probate is issued i.e. before the Executors have access to funds from the estate, money which many people simply do not have. This could result in them having to go to the expense of taking a bank loan to pay the fee. it may also result in people feeling pressured to give away assets during their lifetime to avoid a high fee on their death.
If the changes are approved by Parliament they look set to come into effect in May 2017.