From May 2017 the fee payable to the Probate Registry to  obtain a Grant of Probate will increase by a staggering 2,580% for an average estate and by 12,903% for the wealthiest estates.

Currently the Probate Registry charges a flat fee of £155 to process and issue a grant of probate.  From May the fee will be on a sliding scale as follows:

Value of estate                                 Fee

0-£50,000                                             Nil

£50,001-£300,000                             £300

£300,001-£500,000                           £1000

£500,001-£1,000,000                       £4000

£1,000,001-£1,600,000                    £8000

£1,600,001-£2,000,000                    £12,000

£2,000,001 or more                         £20,000

The Government justifies this by stating that the Court service must pay its way. But the work the Probate Registry has to do is exactly the same whether the estate is worth £10,000 or £10,000,000. In a consultation last year the Government’s proposals were almost unanimously condemned by professional bodies such as the Law Society and the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners and many individual lawyers and law firms who responded. The Government has chosen to ignore that response.

To make matters worse, the new fees apply if the application for probate is submitted after they have come into effect. It does not matter that the deceased died before the fees are increased. There will therefore be a potential problem for the estates of people dying between now and when the fees come in. We cannot submit the application for probate until we have full details of the assets and liabilities of the deceased’s estate.  Where there is inheritance tax to pay, we cannot apply for probate until we have paid the tax and been issued with a receipt by HM Revenue & Customs. It can take HMRC as long as a moth to issue a receipt. Even if we have all the papers ready to go to the Probate Registry before the new fees come in, it might not be possible to send them in until after that date.

The probate fee for an estate liable to inheritance tax is likely to be at least £4,000.

If you feel strongly about this, we suggest you write to your Member of Parliament.

For futher advice please speak to Chris Wallworth