Government Reveals Changes to Probate Fees
12 November 2018
When you apply for Probate in England or Wales, you have to pay a fee to the Probate Court. The Government has now announced that it will be changing the way in which these fees are calculated, which will see some charged thousands more while others will become exempt from Probate fees all together.
What Are Probate Fees?
When someone dies, you will need to wind up their affairs, settle their debts, sell or transfer their assets and distribute inheritance to the right Beneficiaries. This process is commonly known as Probate or Estate Administration. However, what the term 'Probate' technically refers to is a legal document called the Grant of Probate (or Grant of Representation if there's no Will), which gives a named person legal authority to carry out necessary tasks such as selling the deceased's property, closing their bank accounts, etc.
There is a fee that needs to be paid to the Probate Court when an application is made for this document. This is called the Probate fee. This fee is not to be confused with fees charged by Probate Solicitors or other Probate professionals when they are instructed to assist with Probate or Estate Administration work.
How Are Probate Fees Changing?
Currently, Probate fees do not apply if the total value of the Estate is less than £5,000. For Estates worth this amount or more, Probate fees are charged at one of two flat rates, depending on who is applying:
- If a private individual is applying for the Grant of Probate then they will need to pay a fee of £215 to the Probate Court
- If a Probate Solicitor is applying for the Grant of Probate on behalf of the individual, then a reduced Probate fee of £155 will be payable.
Under the new fee structure, there will be no Probate fees to pay if the Estate is worth less than £50,000 – so an increase of £45,000 on the current threshold!
For Estates worth more than £50,000 Probate fees will be charged on a sliding scale between £250 and £6,000, based on the total value of the Estate. The same fee will apply regardless of who is applying for the Grant of Probate.
This is broken down as follows:
- For Estates under £50,000 there will be no Probate fee to pay
- £250 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000
- £750 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth between £300,000 and £500,000
- £2,500 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth between £500,000 and £1 million
- £4,000 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth between £1 million and £1.6 million
- £5,000 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth between £1.6 million and £2 million
- £6,000 Probate fee will apply to Estates worth over £2 million
So what this means in practice is that some Estates will be liable to pay up to £5,785 more in Probate fees than under the current rules. On the other hand, up to 25,000* Estates that would previously have been liable to pay the £215 fee will now become exempt because of the increase to the threshold (*according to figures from the Ministry of Justice).
Who Pays the Probate Fee?
The Estate will be liable for covering the cost of the Probate fee, as this is an expense of the Estate Administration. The person who is carrying out the Estate Administration (the Executor or Administrator) will be responsible for ensuring that this fee is paid, but they will not be required to pay this out of their own personal finances.
The Government has highlighted this point when explaining their rationale for the changes, stating that these fees will never be unaffordable as they are based on the Estate value and are recoverable from the Estate. They have said that the new model is a fairer way of charging for Probate services while ensuring that everyone has access to justice through properly funded and properly resourced Courts.