18 April 2019

Are probate fees rising and how will that affect me?

The cost of obtaining a Grant of Probate was due to rise this April but continuing Brexit discussions have delayed the process in Parliament. The changes however, when they do come into force, could adversely affect executors who are trying to administer their loved one’s estate.

The current flat fee of £215, which has to be paid in advance before the Grant of Probate can be issued, is reduced to £155 if you use a solicitor to make the application on your behalf. Under the new proposed fee scale there will be no fee for estates under £50,000, but then rises from a minimum fee of £250 for an estate worth up to £300,000 to a staggering £6,000 for the largest estates.

All applications, whether made personally or by a solicitor on your behalf, will pay the same fees.

 

Why do I need a Grant of Probate?

 

Not all estates do require a Grant of Probate. Where assets are held in joint names and the value is under a certain amount, the estate can often be administered without one. However, where a bank or building society needs to satisfy itself they are dealing with the right persons before handing over the assets, they will require a Grant of Probate to proceed.

 

How are the new fees calculated?

 

The proposed new fees are as follows:

• Estates up to £50,000: Nil
• Estates from £50,000 up to £300,000: £250
• Estates from £300,000 up to £500,000: £750
• Estates from £500,000 up to £1m: £2,500
• Estates from £1m up to £1.6 m: £4,000
• Estates from £1.6m up to £2m: £5,000
• Estates from £2m upwards: £6,000

Given the large increase in fees for some estates, it is anticipated this will create challenges for some clients that they have not faced before. David King, partner in our Wills, Trusts and Estates team, said: “While it is great to see that the threshold has been increased to £50,000, which increases the number of estates exempt from paying any fees at all, I have concerns regarding the increased fees payable in larger estates “

“People presume that because the estate is valuable, there will be instant access to the deceased assets to pay such fees. However in a lot of cases I see, there may be a valuable house to sell but very little in more liquid assets, such as a bank account. The deceased’s house cannot be sold without a Grant of Probate and executors will need advice about how they can fund the increased fees in order to move matters forward.“

Delays in obtaining a Grant of Probate could make a difficult and emotional time even harder. Beth King-Smith, partner and Head of Disputed Wills, Trusts and Estates, said: “I would encourage executors to make sure that they will not need to personally help fund these fees when they accept the role of executor. Professional advice is key to understanding the options available and will avoid delays in the estate being administered. These can increase tensions at what is already a very difficult time and often lead to unnecessary and expensive disputes between the executors and beneficiaries.”

If you are concerned about the impact of the proposed increased fees, need advice on your role as an executor or help dealing with a potentially difficult situation, please contact David King or Beth King-Smith for an initial discussion.

David King 01989 550568 dking@hcrlaw.com

Beth King-Smith 01905 744842 bkingsmith@hcrlaw.com

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David King, Partner
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