The Ministry of Justice’s proposal to replace the current flat rate for probate court fees by a 6‑banded structure seems likely to go ahead.
In spite of widespread professional and political opposition on the grounds of fairness and the legality of introducing, what is in effect, tax raising legislation by a statutory instrument (‘SI’), the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee voted in February by a narrow majority of 9 votes to 8 to allow the proposed SI for the new probate fee structure to pass on to the House of Commons, where it is thought likely it will pass.
The new proposed structure, which replaces the current flat rate fee of £215 for a personal application and £155 for solicitor applications, is as follows:
|Value of Estate||New Fee|
|Up to||£5,000||£ 0|
|£5,000 – £50,000||£ 0|
|£50,001 – £300,000||£ 250|
|£300,001 – £500,000||£ 750|
|£500,001 – £1,000,000||£2,500|
|£1,000,000 – £1,600,000||£4,000|
|£1,600,000 – £2,000,000||£5,000|
The change is due to come into effect sometime in April 2019, although no date has yet been given for its introduction. The government has said that it will publish guidance on the ways for personal representatives to pay for the proposed increases before the changes are introduced.
The major professional bodies, such as STEP and the Law Society, are now concentrating their efforts on persuading the government to apply the new system to deaths which take place after the introduction of the new fees. Without such a qualification, the fear is that there will be a considerable rush to apply for a grant of probate before the start of April and increase further the pressure on an overstretched HMRC and the Probate Registries.
Paul Camfield, Senior Associate
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