Probate fee increase update
In an update of our report dated 8 March 2017, in the face of an outcry from the public and legal practitioners alike, the Ministry of Justice has published some further information about its plans to increase probate fees to eye watering levels.
Under the new proposals, estates which are worth more than £2 million will attract a probate fee of £20,000, which we have calculated is a percentage increase of over 12,500% when comparted to the current fee. Even more modest estates, such as those valued between £50,000 and £300,000 will see the probate fee doubled to £300.
It has been reported by The Law Society Gazette that when the Ministry of Justice consulted about its proposals last year, less than 2% of those who responded to the consultation were in favour of the increases. Nevertheless, the government seems intent on pushing these changes through.
Where an estate is subject to inheritance tax it is not possible to apply for a grant of probate until the inheritance tax account has been submitted to HMRC and any tax duly paid, which can lead to delays. The new guidance provides that the appropriate forms can be submitted to HMRC and to the probate registry at the same time. The probate registry will not issue the grant of probate until HMRC have returned the relevant form confirming receipt of the inheritance tax return and the funds required to settle the inheritance tax liability, but this will avoid incurring the higher fee.
However, this will not help anybody applying for a Grant of Probate after the new fees have come into force, in May 2017.
Abbie Kingdon, Senior Private Client Solicitor at Samuels Solicitors in Devon has said: “the Probate Office is likely to be inundated ahead of the new fees coming into effect which could cause delays for grieving families. The new fees will potentially place further pressure upon families at a difficult time”.