The government has confirmed that the cost of obtaining a Grant of Representation/Grant of Probate in England and Wales will change (and generally increase) in April 2019 with the introduction of a banded system, with fees increasing in line with the value of the estate, replacing the current flat rate.
Under the proposed new rules, estates with a value of more than £50,000 will see a substantial increase in fees, which for the highest-value estates will amount to a sizeable £6,000. Under the current regime, there is a flat fee of £155 (for applications made through legal representatives) or £215 (for applications made by members of the public).
No fee will be payable for estates worth less than £50,000, but the charges will increase sharply beyond that threshold. Estates worth between £50,001 and £300,000 will cost £250. Between £300,001 and £500,000, it will be £750, and between £500,001 and £1 million, the fee will hit £2,500. Fees continue to increase to a maximum of £6,000 for estates of more than £2 million.
|Value of Estate||New Fee||% Change (from £215)|
|Up to £5,000||£0||0%|
|£5,000 – £50,000||£0||-100%|
|£50,001 – £300,000||£250||+16%|
|£300,001 – £500,000||£750||249%|
|£500,001 – £1m||£2,500||1063%|
|£1m – £1.6m||£4,000||1760%|
|£1.6m – £2m||£5,000||2226%|
The proposal to link probate fees to the value of the estate has attracted overwhelming opposition. Probate Managers Nick Latimir and Jane Barlow are both members of STEP which has questioned the legality of the way this fee structure is being brought in, suggesting that the changes seem more like a tax and should therefore be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.
Many families and beneficiaries who are asset rich but cash poor will be affected by the need to raise such amounts to obtain probate. The date of the application for the grant of probate will be crucial in order to determine if the new fees will apply. Recently bereaved relatives who would pay higher fees under the new regime are therefore facing pressure to apply for probate as soon as possible.
This publication has been prepared by RRL LLP. It is to be treated as a general guide only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law or represent specific advice. No liability is accepted for the opinions it contains, or for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved.