The Non-Contentious Probate Fees order 2018 was approved on 7th Feb 2019 by a House of Commons delegated Legislation Committee. The narrow vote was in favour of progressing by 9 votes to 8. Thus means that fees for probate will change from a fixed fee to a sliding scale.
Lucy Frazer MP, the Minister responsible for the legislation, confirmed that the changes will be introduced in April and that guidance on how to pay fees will be published before the changes take effect. The actual date of implementation has not yet been confirmed
Many believe that the huge increase in fees that will rise incrementally from £250 up to £6,000, amounts to a tax on death, with the value of your property determining the amount you are liable to pay.
Probate tiered system
The Probate tiered fee system is expected to see the following changes:
- Estates worth under £50,000 will pay nothing and will save £215 compared to the current fee structure.
- Estates from £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250, an increase of £35.
- Estates between £300,000 and £500,000 will pay £750, up by £535.
- Estates between £500,000 and £1 million will pay £2,500, up by £2,285.
- Estates between £1 million and £1.6 million will pay £4,000, up by £3,785.
- Estates worth between £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, an increase of £4,785.
- Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, an increase of £5,785
The Law Society have staunchly opposed the fee changes claiming that the amended fees are a ‘misuse of the Lord Chancellor’s fee-levying power.’
Furthermore, it has been that the increase ‘is disproportionate’ and that ‘It is unfair to expect the bereaved to fund or subsidise other parts of the court and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other options but to use the probate service. This is an introduction of a new tax on death by stealth.”
Period of uncertainty
For those dealing with Probate and the public then there may well be a period of time where there is uncertainty over new payment guidelines, and understanding of the new changes. There may be a short notice period of changes to fees and care should be taken when advising clients.
This change to fees combined with the new online digital application process for people who apply personally for Probate, rather than using a specialist, means there needs to be complete clarity for as to what is expected in fees and when. With no specialist involved in this process then there is the likelihood of some confusion for a period of time
BTWC and our legal partners are here to help support you and your clients in any queries raised regarding the matter of Probate fees and any other queries regarding Probate. Our view is that ultimately is saves time and hassle (at an often distressing time) by using experienced resource and support in a possibly complex scenario. Call us on 01522 500823 for support on any queries.