Surprisingly, the budget was silent on this point but following the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice Lucy Frazer QC’s announcement to parliament on 5 November 2018, it looks like the probate fee increase is back on the cards. As it will be by way of statutory instrument, it will not even be debated, which does feel like a stealth tax on grieving families. The proposed increase is due to take effect in April 2019.
However, feedback from the initial proposal in 2017 have clearly been taken on board as the increase is not as severe as initially suggested. Currently the fee for a solicitor application is a flat fee of £155 (a personal application being £215). There will be no fee for estates under £50,000 and estates between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay a fee of £250. Under the proposed banded fee model the next level up to £500,000 will pay £750 and those up to £1 million will pay a hefty £2,500, whereas it will be a whopping £6,000 for those estates over £2 million.
They will be issuing “Guidance on Ways to Pay for Probate Fees” and this may help clarify how to deal with the practicalities where assets are frozen until after receipt of the grant of probate.
We feel that there may be more questions than answers from grieving families and so would urge anybody with any concerns or who would like further guidance to contact the wills, trusts and probate team at B P Collins on 01753 279003 or by emailing email@example.com.