WILLPOWER: As new Probate Registry fees are on the brink of approval, Richard Barlow discusses how the changes will affect executors and the increased costs you may face…
I’ve heard it may cost more than I expected to sort out my mother’s estate. Is this true?
With the hullabaloo surrounding Brexit, you’d be forgiven for thinking all other government business was on ice. As it happens, there are proposals, once again, to increase the fees paid to the Probate Registry by families wishing to administer a deceased estate.
For a while now, the application fee for obtaining a Grant of Probate, which is needed if a will was made, or Letters of Administration (the equivalent if a loved one died intestate) has been £155 if it was done through a solicitor or £215 if you apply directly. This covers all estates, regardless of value. There was a move by the government to increase this flat fee quite significantly a couple of years ago, but to everyone’s relief it didn’t come to fruition.
However, the proposed increase is back on the agenda and may happen sooner rather than later. There was a strong indication it would come into effect in April, but now it seems likely it will not be introduced until the end of the month.
How will the new fee scale work?
The Ministry of Justice insists the proposed new fees are not a tax by any other name, but reflect the service provided. This is definitely a matter for debate!
Under the new structure, the application fee payable to the Probate Registry will depend on the value of the estate, in other words, it will be a sliding scale.
The exact figures are yet to be rubber-stamped, but early indications show that for estates of less than £50,000 there will be no fee payable. At the other end of the spectrum, those worth more than £2 million may incur fees as high as £6,000.
Again, it is possible changes will be made before the new fee structure is implemented, but we will be keeping an eye on developments so we can advise executors on how they will be affected.
Does this mean I should submit my application before the changes are introduced?
In light of recent developments, we recommend executors come to see us, so we can outline the options available in relation to your specific set of circumstances, the procedure involved and the likely costs.
It is not always the case that Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are needed to deal with assets forming part of an estate and we can advise you on this at an early stage.
We can also discuss whether your mother’s estate will be subject to inheritance tax and if it is, prepare the appropriate return and calculate the liability. There are deadlines you must meet, so it is important you don’t fall foul of the legislation.
To find out more about administering an estate, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form.