It has now been confirmed that fees to apply for a grant of representation in connection with a deceased’s estate (known as a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, depending on whether or not there is a Will) will be increasing from May 2017.
The current fee, irrespective of the size of an estate, is £155 for the grant (and 50p for each additional sealed copy which can be used in the same way as the original grant) if an application is made via a firm of solicitors. The current fee is £215 if the application is made by an individual acting personally.
The fees are to increase for estates worth over £50,000 at the date of death. Any estates worth under £50,000 at the date of death which require a grant to be administered will be exempt from the application fee.
For estates worth over £50,000, fees will start from £300 depending on the size of the estate and will rise up to £20,000 for estates worth over £2m.
It is arguable that the new probate application fees are akin to simply another form of inheritance tax, commonly referred to as a ‘death duty’. For estates which comprise mainly property and have limited liquid assets, e.g. savings account or investments, problems will arise as to funding for the probate application fee.
For example, say someone dies with a property worth £500,000 and £3,000 in a bank account, whether there is inheritance tax payable or not, if a grant of probate is required to sell or transfer the property (or encash the proceeds of the bank account), the probate application fee would be £4,000. This application fee would of course absorb here the monies in the bank account and would leave a balance outstanding. There is then the issue of how the funeral costs are paid, if the deceased did not have a prepaid funeral plan.
This ‘shake up’ of probate application fees will cause a great deal of anguish and financial hardship for many families at a time in their lives when they need it least. It will be interesting to see in future whether the probate application fees change again.
Should you require any advice or assistance in dealing with obtaining a grant of probate or the administering of an estate, please give one of our solicitors a call on 01692 581231 (Stalham office) or 01603 783818 (Wroxham office).
You can also click here to find out more about our Wills and Probate
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.
Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.