Added on: 15th March, 2017 by FDC _26807
The government have announced that they will be proceedings with controversial plans to introduce huge increases to the fees charged by the Probate Court Service, for obtaining grants of Probate.
At present, there are flat rate fees which apply to all estates, of £105 where the application is made via a solicitor, or £215 where it is not (there is no fee where the value of the estate is less than £5,000)
Under the new rules, the fees will start at £300 and rise sharply for more valuable estates.
The new fees will be
Value of Estate Fee Required
0 - £50,000 Nil
£50,001 - £300,000 £300
£300,001 - £500,000 £1,000
£500,001 - £1,000,000 £4,000
£1,000,001 - £1,600,000 £8,000
£1,600,001 - £2,000,000 £12,000
£2,000,001 or more £20,000
Professionals and campaigners have raised concerns about the imposition of the new fees, pointing out that they are in effect a stealth tax, as the work which the probate court carries out is no different for a large and a small estate.
Solicitors for the Elderly, who are experts in issues around wills and probate issues a press statement. Their spokesperson, Claire Davis, Director, said:
“SFE is extremely disappointed to see that the consensus to reject the proposed probate fees has been ignored. For the 62% of estates that use a solicitor, probate registry performs a purely administrative role, and the value of the estate has no bearing on the work undertaken.
To burden larger estates with a significantly larger fee is an unfair form of taxation. For people in this situation, their property is often their primary asset, and they have little cash to pay for higher probate fees, on top of other necessities such as IHT or the use of a solicitor.
The increase in probate fees will place a burden on families at a sensitive and distressing time and is likely to put people who are vulnerable and/or elderly at risk. Our fear is that such clients might be persuaded to take steps to avoid probate fees, even if the effect is to leave them with insufficient assets to provide for themselves for the rest of their life.”
FDC Law’s Darrell Collins confirms the position. She explained “The fee changes will significantly affect estates where the assets are worth over £300,000, where the fee will increase from £215 to at least £1,000. These changes are likely to affect many ordinary home-owners. Even for fairly modest estates, where people owned a home, the fee will almost double. For larger estates the rise is even bigger, with the biggest estates paying 129 times the current fee."
As yet an exact date have not been set for the new fees to become effective but it is anticipated that they will become payable from May 2017.
If you are currently an executor for someone who has died, we recommend that you take immediate advice from your solicitor regarding any implications for your case.
Contact a member of our Pricvate Client department on 01373 463311 for further advice.