The proposed increase to probate fees has been a hot topic for our private client team since the start of 2019 and you are likely to have seen discussion about the proposals in the national press. However, despite threats that new fees would be introduced in April 2019 the old fee structure remains in place. So, where do we stand now and, what should you be doing if you are an executor or administrator who needs to administer an estate?
An application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration is required on death when an estate has assets over a certain value, of a particular nature or in all circumstances where a property forms part of the estate and needs to be sold. The Grant itself is a certificate which confirms who is authorised to administer an estate.
The Grant application has an associated fee which at present is £215 for lay applicants or £155 for applications by Solicitors. The proposed reforms would see a significant increase in fees, particularly for higher value estates. By way of example, the fee for an estate valued at between £500,000 – £1 million is proposed to increase to £2,500.
Before the new fees can be introduced the proposed order needs to be voted on in the House of Commons. This has been awaited since February 2019. The recent prorogation of Parliament brought with it an indefinite delay to the order being voted on. However, at the time of writing, Parliament has been reconvened and it is possible that the new proposals will be voted on and implemented at any time.
With the uncertainty of when the new proposals will take effect, we are continuing to advise our clients to apply for a Grant in a timely manner and would encourage all executors and administrators to use a Solicitor to assist with an application to the Probate Registry. There are a number of advantages to using a professional which include:
1. An efficient, hassle free process;
2. A reduced probate fee (currently); and
3. Ensuring that all available taxation reliefs and exemptions are applied to the estate.
Importantly, using a professional to apply for a Grant allows recently bereaved family members or friends who are acting as executors and administrators time to focus on the grieving process.
If you would like to discuss an application to the Probate Registry with us in more detail our teams in North Hill, Plymstock and Plympton are available now to take your enquiries.