Since the release of the consultation outcome, we have asked the MoJ to clarify whether the new fees will apply on the basis of the date of death of the individual or the date of the application for probate.
The government has decided to proceed with all of the proposals outlined in its consultation on changes to fees for grants of probate, which ran from February to April 2016. The proposals were:
- moving from the current flat fee for applications for a grant of probate to a banded structure where the fees increase in line with the value of the estate, up to a maximum of £20,000
- raising the threshold below which no fee is payable from £5,000 to £50,000
- removing probate fees from the statutory help with fees remissions scheme.
The Law Society responded to the consultation in April 2016. We believe that it’s unfair that recently bereaved and vulnerable individuals will be subject to excessive probate fees, which have been put in place to turn the probate service into what will essentially be a mechanism for profit.
In addition, it is likely that firms who were willing to assist executors of an asset rich, cash poor estate by paying the probate fee as a disbursement will now withdraw this goodwill gesture – a fee of up to £20,000 is likely to be too much for firms to fund as a disbursement.
Since the release of the consultation outcome, we have also asked the MoJ to clarify whether the new fees will apply on the basis of the date of death of the individual or the date of the application for probate. This is an important point that will matter greatly to both solicitors and their clients, as they may be dealing with the estate of an individual who may have died some time ago but, for whatever reason, application for grant of probate has been delayed. We are awaiting response from the MoJ on this point.
The MoJ expects that the fee increase will come into effect from May 2017, subject to parliamentary approval. We will track the progress of any related and forthcoming legislation, and keep members informed so that they are able to act in the best interests of their clients.