Probate Fees; when will they increase?
Towards the end of March 2019 the Government announced their plans to dramatically increase the current rates of probate fees. The planned increase was due to take effect on 1 April 2019. Naturally this led to a significant spike in applications for probate in the preceding weeks as people attempted to beat the deadline. This pressure caused the HM Revenue & Customs’ website to crash for several hours on 26 of March 2019. However, despite the proposals, and the scheduled deadline, the increase has not yet been implemented. The reason for the delay appears to be due to the Government’s focus on ongoing Brexit negotiations. The Ministry of Justice confirming that the motion would be tabled as soon as “Parliamentary time allowed”.
The increase in probate fees means that the current minimum probate fee of £155 (if application made via a solicitor) or of £215 (for applications made by individuals) for estates worth more than £5,000 will increase to a minimum of £250 for estates worth over £50,000. The new fees will be calculated by reference to the value of the estate and will increase to a maximum of £6,000 for estates valued at £2,000,000 or more. The increase is likely to have an effect on how executors will be able to deal with probate matters. Often those executors may need to produce the fees themselves as bank accounts will freeze. Executors unable to raise the money to pay for probate fees may need the probate services to contact the bank of the deceased in order to release funds that pay the increased amount.
It is however worth noting, that the Government initially proposed a fee structure that increased fees for estates worth £2,000,000 or more to £20,000. In comparison the changes are relatively modest.
No probate fees will be payable for estates worth £50,000 or less but that is unlikely going to make a difference for people administering estates including real estate.
If you are a named executor of an estate that is valued at over £50,000 you should look at applying for probate before the change in fees comes into force, avoid delaying the administration if possible.
If you need assistance with drafting your will or advice on a probate matter, please contact our team on 020 7388 1658 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fazl Buchari, Solicitor