If you need to get Probate for someone who has died then you are advised to hurry. There has been a recent government consultation paper proposing very significant changes to Probate Registry fees. These are the fees that you pay to the Probate Registry when you apply for a Grant of Probate. Probate application fees are currently either £215 if you apply for Probate without using a Solicitor, or if we as Solicitors apply there is a flat fee of £155. You then just pay a small fee (50p) for each copy of the Probate that you need.
A Probate Registry fee revolution appears to be on the way. The proposed revised Probate Registry fees set are out in the government’s consultation paper as follows:
For an estate with a value of:
Less than £50,000 – the new proposed Probate fee will be zero, good news (and the obvious government headline) but….
Between £50,000 and- £300,000 – it will be £300
Between £300,000 and £500,000 – £1,000
Between £500,000 and £1 million – £4,000
Between £1 million and £1.6 million – £8,000
Between £1.6 million and £2 million – £12,000 and
Over £2 million – the Probate Registry fee will be £20,000
Are these legitimate service fees for justice or dare we say it, another ‘stealth tax’? In government speak substitute ‘fair and progressive’ for ‘stealth tax’. We know that staff at the Probate Registry are very helpful and they positively encourage people to apply for Probate without a Solicitor – but with their fees set at these rates to cover their costs, Solicitors are looking like the cheaper alternative if this is actually about ‘access to justice’. We don’t know when the Probate Registry fees are going to go up and how the new fees will be applied. The government consultation closed on 1 April and energies may be currently diverted elsewhere given the EU Referendum result.
We are told that £700 million is needed to reform our Court System. It is estimated that £250 million of this can be raised from the proposed new Probate fees tariff. Perhaps the new Probate Registry fees won’t be as high as the proposals in the consultation paper, but the direction of travel seems fairly clear.
These Probate Registry fee changes have not taken effect yet and we don’t know if, or when they will – but we are all warned. If you need to get Probate and have been delaying because you don’t have the time, or you aren’t sure what to do then don’t delay. Please contact us and we will be happy to help you.