The proposed change to probate court fees, outlined in our article in November 2018, was narrowly approved by the House of Commons Delegated Legislation Committee earlier this month. The draft statutory instrument will give effect to a banded fee structure for applications for grants of representation based on the value of the net estate, replacing the current flat fee of £155 payable when an application for a grant is made by a solicitor or £215 payable when an application is made by an individual. For larger estates, the new fees represent a significant increase in the current flat fees.
Whilst no definite date has yet been given for the introduction of the new probate fees, Lucy Frazer MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, has indicated that the new fee structure is likely to come into effect in April 2019.
For our clients who are already in touch with us regarding the administration of an estate, we will do all that we can to ensure that the application for the grant of representation is made to the Probate Registry before the introduction of the new probate fees. However, at this stage, we cannot give any guarantees that the application will be made in time, due to the complex nature of the probate process and, where appropriate, the requirements of HM Revenue & Customs regarding inheritance tax payments.
For clients who have suffered a recent bereavement, unfortunately it seems highly likely they will have to pay the new probate fees given the short time before their probable introduction.
However, we would urge all clients who are currently involved in an application for a grant of representation to contact us. We are expecting more guidance on the new probate fees before they are introduced and we will be able to provide further advice once this is published.