Probate Registry fees set to rise
A long-planned rise in probate fees is set to take effect in April 2019, increasing the amount it will cost to obtain probate in England and Wales to between £250 and £6,000.
When someone dies, a Court known as the Probate Registry will usually need to grant permission for an estate to be collected and then divided amongst beneficiaries. This permission is called the Grant of Probate where there is a Will, or a Grant of Letters of Administration where there is not a Will.
Applying for probate currently costs a flat rate of £215 for all estates worth more than £5,000, or £155 if an application is made via a solicitor. Estates worth less than £5,000 are exempt from this fee.
Under the incoming fees, estates worth less than £50,000 will be exempt from paying an application fee. The government estimate that, as a result, 25,000 estates will be lifted out of paying fees each year. However, all other estates will end up paying more and, in many cases, the new fees will be considerably higher than they are now.
From next month:
• Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing; meaning estates worth between £5,000 and
£50,000 will save £215 compared to now.
• Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £250, equating to a rise of £35.
• Estates worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay £750, equating to a rise of £535.
• Estates worth between £500,000 and £1 million will pay £2,500, equating to a rise of £2,285.
• Estates worth between £1 million and £1.6 million will pay £4,000, equating to a rise of £3,785.
• Estates worth between £1.6 million and £2 million will pay £5,000, equating to a rise of £4,785.
• Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, equating to a rise of £5,785.
In some cases, probate will not be needed in order to administer the estate. However, if there is a property which needs to be sold or transferred, this can only be done once probate has been granted. Most banks and investment companies will also insist on seeing a Grant of Probate before releasing funds to the executors, depending on the value of the accounts.
Although probate fees are payable from the estate, when assets are frozen until probate is granted, executors will often pay for the application fees themselves and recover the costs once funds have been released from the bank. With a lack of publicity around the new fees and a general confusion about the new rules, it is feared some executors may resort to taking out costly short-term loans to cover these costs.
If you have been appointed as the executor of an estate and are concerned about how to fund the new probate fees, contact Burtons Solicitors and make an appointment with a member of our specialist Wills & Probate team. We will be able to assist and guide you through the process to ensure you are not left out of pocket by the rise. Our specialist tax and legal knowledge can also help you through the complexities of estate administration and ensure that the process is dealt with quickly and efficiently.