Following in the wake of the recent budget, the Government has put forward proposals to significantly increase the cost of obtaining a Grant of Probate.
These proposals are similar to ones first put forward in 2017 and early indications are that they are likely to be just as controversial.
At the moment, there is a fixed fee for issuing a Grant of Probate of £155, or £215 if you make personal application. If the Government’s proposals are enacted, a new system will be introduced with a sliding scale for fees so that for an estate worth between £500,000 and £1 million pounds the fee will be £2,500, for an estate worth between £1 million and £1.6 million the fee will be £4,000, for estates worth between £1.6 million and £2 million the proposed fee is £5,000 per and then for an estate with more than £2 million, the application fee will be £6,000.
The Government has stated that the increase in fees is necessary to fund the reform of the Courts and Tribunal service, but considerable concern has been expressed about the impact the increase will have. The House of Commons Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has previously warned that the last such proposed increase in probate fees may have been unlawful, as it was effectively introducing an additional tax.
The Government proposes to introduce the new fee structure from April next year and has said that it will issue guidance on how to pay the increased fees before that time.
It remains to be seen whether the fees will be introduced as planned. Certainly, the proposed new fee structure could cause practical problems for those administering the estate of a loved one. There is also some concern that people may feel under pressure to pass on assets during their lifetimes, which may cause unexpected complications for themselves and their family or leave them in a vulnerable position in their own lifetimes.
With this in mind, independent advice should always be taken before restructuring your assets.
If you would like to find out further information on the administration of estates, the proposed new Probate Registry fees or lifetime giving, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.