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Grant of Probate Application Fee Reforms Go Ahead

Following the government decision to increase the fees payable for an application for a Grant of Probate, Private Client Partner, Dagmara Kulczykowska explains what this means and the impact this will have. 

The government entered a period of consultation from 18 February to 1 April 2016 and proposed:

  • moving from the current flat fee for applications for a grant of probate to a banded structure where the fees increase in line with the value of the estate, up to a maximum of £20,000
  • raising the threshold below which no fee is payable from £5,000 to £50,000
  • removing probate fees from the statutory help with fees remissions scheme

Despite overwhelming objections to the proposals from The Law Society, law firms, charities and members of the public the government is proceeding with the proposals

The new probate application fee structure:

 probate fee reform chart

One of the main concerns of the new fee structure is the executor’s ability to pay before a Grant of Probate is issued and the estate assets – bank accounts – made available to the executors to draw on. The government’s response is that payment can be made from the following sources:

  • Cash in the deceased’s estate, if released by the bank or building society.
  • Personal assets of the executor, bearing in mind they would only be out of pocket temporarily and would be able to reclaim the fee as a credit against the estate.
  • Assistance from beneficiaries of the estate.
  • A loan (depending on the executor’s credit rating).
  • A solicitor or professional probate company could be appointed to act on the executor’s behalf, who may be willing to pay the fee up front.
  • An alternative executor named in the will may have adequate funds available, or a better credit rating and therefore be better placed to act.

The government’s reasoning for the new higher fee structure is:

“In order for our courts and tribunal system to continue to provide access to justice in the long term, we must look at ways to make sure that HMCTS is funded adequately now and in the future…we consider that it remains necessary and fair to use this statutory power to charge enhanced fees for those estates that can afford to contribute more”

The Government is bringing forward the necessary statutory instrument for the plans to go ahead so a date for these new fees to come into effect has not yet been set.

If you need advice in respect of this or any other matters arising from probate then contact Dagmara Kulczykowska on 01908 689317 or email dkulczykowska@geoffreyleaver.com