It was announced earlier this year that as from a date in May of this year (which as yet remains unknown), the fees for applying for a Grant of Probate or of Letters of Administration would increase substantially, so that there will no longer be a flat fee of £155 but instead the following fees will be applied by the Probate Registry:-
Estates up to £50,000: No fee (this is the only reduction)
Estates worth more than £50,000 up to £300,000: £300
Estates worth more than £300,000 up to £500,000: £1,000
Estates worth more than £500,000 up to £1m: £4,000
Estates worth more than £1m up to £1.6m: £8,000
Estates worth more than £1.6m up to £2m: £12,000
Estates worth more than £2m: £20,000
Probate is usually required to access someone’s assets after they have died, unless those assets do not include any land, property or shares, or they do not exceed £15,000 in value or they were all held jointly with someone else.
The problem is that it is not normally possible to access the deceased person’s funds until after the Grant of Probate is obtained and therefore families wanting to obtain Probate may well struggle to meet these fees. This will be a particular problem for families who are rich in asset value terms (for instance if they own lots of property or land) but are cash-poor.
This proposed increase in fees, which is nothing more than a back door tax, seemed to have gone unchallenged. Our Solicitors felt very passionately that this was a very unfair increase and have been supporting their professional bodies in challenging this proposal as well as taking this up with our MP.
It has now been announced that the proposed increase in fees will be reviewed by Parliament after Easter after a parliamentary panel of experts deemed them to be unlawful. Their highly critical report said that these changes could breach the constitutional principle that there should be no taxation without the consent of Parliament. It called for the proposals to “have the attention” of both houses.
Despite this, the Ministry of Justice has stated that their plans to introduce these fees remain un unchanged and although they will be considered by Parliament after Easter, it is intended that they should come into force as soon as possible.
We will keep you updated on this topic, but if you have any queries about obtaining Probate or would like to speak to one of our specialist Solicitors please telephone us on (01267) 237441.