Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Red tops call them a further death tax. Some say they are a further tax on bereaved families. Some just say the reforms are greedy. What are we talking about? The increase in Probate fees which were due to lack of parliamentary time in 2017 by the Conservative Government and substantial disquiet from the public.
The fees have now been picked up from the long grass and firmly planted on the starting line and are due to come into existence in April 2019 as the Government clearly do not consider the significant disquiet as as defeat to their proposal.
Unfortunately for executors these costs bear no correlation to the actual cost for the Probate Registry to issue a grant of probate but are being seen as a way to subsidise other courts and tribunals. The reintroduction of these proposals have again been widely condemned. At the moment a personal application for a Grant of Probate attracts a fee of £215 or £155 if a solicitor makes the application.
The proposal is as before, a sliding scale of probate fees based on the value of an estate with seven bands running from zero to £6,000. For an exempt estate or estate under £50,000 there will be no probate application fees. For an estate between £50,000 and £300,000 fees will be £250. For an estate between £300,000 and £500,000 fees will be £750 and will then increase from between £2,500 to £6,000 for estates over £500,000 up to and in excess of £2million. This upper fee of £6,000 is a reduction from the first draft of £20,000 but still a potential headache for executors.
There is a great deal of arguing and lobbying taking place behind the scenes to try and avoid this disproportionate change in regime from hitting bereaved families. Whilst we expect April 2019 to be kick off there is still a chance that the Government may change its mind. Watch this space for further updates.