Probate News

Brexit is having all sorts of knock on effects at present, one of which is creating uncertainty for those going through the process of applying for probate.

Earlier this year the Government announced that it wished to change the current probate fee structure from a flat rate fee to one based on the value of the estate.

Whilst the current system charges a flat fee (£215 for personal applications and £155 for solicitor applications) it is proposed to change this to a system which charges according to the value of the estate:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000, no rise  
  • Estates worth £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £95 
  • Estates worth £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £595 
  • Estates worth £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,130  
  • Estates worth £1 million up Estates worth less than £50,000, no rise   
  • Estates worth £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £95 
  • Estates worth £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £595 
  • Estates worth £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,130 
  • Estates worth £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,845 
  • Estates worth £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,845  
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,845
  •  Estates to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,845 
  • Estates worth £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,845  
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,845

Initially the changes had been due to be implemented on 1st April however there has been widespread objections to this proposal on the basis that it is essentially a ‘stealth tax’.

Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, has commented;

“The government’s proposed increases to probate fees have been unpopular with both consumers and the legal profession since the very beginning.The costs to the courts for granting probate does not change whether the estate is worth £50,000 or £2m. Making larger estates pay more is effectively just increasing the level of inheritance tax by stealth. It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to subsidise other parts of the courts and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other option but to apply for probate. This is a tax on grief.”

In order to introduce the new fee structure the Government needs to put forward a Parliamentary motion which has not yet been proposed, presumably as Parliamentary time is currently being dominated by issues relating to Brexit.

Due to well organised campaigns by the Law Society and Solicitors for the Elderly amongst others, many MP’s have indicated that they will oppose the changes so it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.

This uncertainty, combined with this month’s introduction of a whole new IT system for Probate Registries, has resulted in significant delays in obtaining Grants of Probate, which can cause significant inconvenience especially if there is a property sale taking place.

Accordingly, the best advice is to try to get any current Grant applications to the Probate Registry as quickly as possible in the event that your estate will be affected by a possible increase in fees, but be prepared for a much longer wait than previously as the District Registries work hard to catch up on their current backlogs.


 For further information, please contact our Associate Kerry Blackhurst from the Wills, Trusts and Probate department on 0161 926 1533 .