What are probate fees?
When someone dies owning assets, their executor will often need to apply to the court for a grant of probate or, if the deceased did not leave a Will, a grant of letters of administration. The grant is a legal document which confirms that the executor or administrator has the authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate. When an application is made for a grant, probate fees are charged by the court.
How much is the current probate fee in England and Wales?
Probate applications are currently (April 2022) charged at a flat rate of £273. This represents a hike in fees of 76% on the fees previously charged.
Do probate fees apply to all estates?
Probate fees are not charged on estates with a value of £5,000 or under.
What changes to probate fees were previously being considered?
Fees had been set to rise by a whopping 2,700%, until a public backlash caused the governemnt to rethink its plans. The fees were going to be based on a sliding scale depending on how much the estate is worth.
Critics said that this plan amounted to a ‘death tax’ and the abandonment of the scheme has met with universal approval.
The Government says that the new £273 probate fee will only cover the costs of processing probate applications and they will not make a profit from it.
The Ministry of Justice has been quick to reassure people that the fees will fully fund investment in a “first-class digital probate service to ensure shorter waiting times, fewer user and administrative errors and a better experience for families”, adding that, “every penny will go towards the cost of processing probate applications – something that is currently subsidised by taxpayers.”
As solicitors we expect to see a significant improvement in the standard of probate service provided by the court given the huge rise in fees and the unacceptable delays and backlogs that we have seen in recent years.