Proposed Changes to Probate Court fees
You may have heard that the UK Government is proposing to introduce a change to the fees payable when applying to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Representation, replacing the current flat rate with a sliding scale based on the value of the deceased's sole estate, as follows:-
|Value of Estate||Current Fee||Proposed New Fee|
|Up to £5,000||£0||£0|
|£5,001 to £50,000||£155||£0|
|£50,001 to £300,000||£155||£250|
|£300,001 to £500,000||£155||£750|
|£500,001 to £1,000,000||£155||£2,500|
|£1,000,001 to £1,600,000||£155||£4,000|
|£1,600,001 to £2,000,000||£155||£5,000|
|More than £2,000,000||£155||£6,000|
For some, the changes are very positive; it is estimated that around 25,000 additional estates per year will no longer incur any Court fees at all. For others though, the news is less welcome as those who do need to pay will end up paying more.
When is this going to happen?
It is likely that these changes will come into effect for applications submitted on or after April 2019, although this has yet to be confirmed. The Private Client department at Blanchards Bailey are in close contact with the Probate Registry in this regard.
However, similar proposals (with much larger fee increases) were put forward in 2017 and dropped before implementation after encountering severe criticism. While it remains to be seen whether these proposals will go the same way, our experienced Estate Administration team will do all they can to assist you in applying for a Grant prior to the deadline and to keep you informed of the progress of the administration. If, for any reason, it is not be possible to process an application in time, the person handling your case will be able to discuss other options that may be available.
Where will I find the money to pay the fees?
The Court fees are classed as an administration expense and so are recoverable from the estate.
Although the deceased's liquid assets often cannot be accessed without a Grant being obtained, the current exceptions to this rule are for payment of funeral expenses and Inheritance Tax. It is hoped that banks and other financial institutions will see fit to extend this exception to the Court fees as a Grant cannot be obtained without them! Our team are currently making enquiries of local branches to establish what procedures they may be implementing to help.
Of course, if you have the resources available and are willing to cover the cost of the Court fees in the short term then you are free to do this. Once the Grant is issued and funds are available, you can be reimbursed from the estate for the expenses you have incurred.
The Government has confirmed they will be issuing guidance regarding how to fund the fees closer to the implementation of the new system. We will provide an update as soon as possible after this is published.
Why should I use Blanchards Bailey?
Our award winning private client team is here to support you, allowing you to focus on the important things at what can be a very difficult time.
Personal Representatives have a duty to make full enquires regarding the assets and liabilities of an estate, and to provide accurate figures and a true representation of the estate within the Probate application papers. If you choose to instruct this firm, our legal professionals can assist you with these enquiries, ensure the paperwork is properly completed and the correct Court fee paid. As inaccurate or misleading information could leave you open to penalty charges, our service acts as an extra layer of security for both Personal Representatives and beneficiaries of an estate.
Do I have to get a Grant of Representation?
As not every estate requires a Grant, you may be thinking that yourself or your loved ones should try to arrange your affairs to avoid the 'hassle' of the Probate process after you are gone. Unfortunately however, some acts that are undertaken during our lifetimes can still have an effect on our estates. Our Estate Planning team are able to provide advice on a range of topics including making sure your Wills are correctly drafted and suitable for your needs, lifetime gifts and Trusts.
Please call us on 01258 483593 and we will be happy to answer your questions.