23 May 2019
In November 2018 the government proposed to change the current Court fee structure for Probate applications from a flat rate fee to one based on the value of the estate. Whilst this change has faced delays it is expected to take place at some time in the next few weeks.
Currently the rate for Probate registration is £215 (or £155 if the application is made by a solicitor) and applies to all estates valued at more than £5,000. The fees are currently set at cost recovery levels.
The proposed new fees have been set so that small estates will not have to pay a fee whilst most estates will pay more. Some have suggested that they act as another form of Inheritance Tax. The proposed new rates are:
Understandably, applying for Probate may be the last thing on many bereaved families’ minds. Government data reveals that most Probate applications are submitted two to three months following a death and a significant proportion take longer than six months. But faced with a potentially much higher fee, now may be the time to try and fast forward the process.
One of the main reasons for time delays is that Probate registries won’t normally accept an application for Probate until HMRC has confirmed that it has processed the Inheritance Tax Account. However, the GOV.UK website states that while the process for introducing the new fee structure is ongoing, Probate registries will accept applications for Probate before the account has been processed by HMRC. The application must include a note to say that the appropriate Inheritance Tax forms will follow shortly.
So, if you are in a position to do so, we would suggest that you submit an application for Probate as quickly as possible, before the new fee structure takes effect.