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Delays in probate and the impending court fee increases

The Court fees for when someone applies for a Grant of Probate were due to move from a flat fee to a fee based on the value of your estate. This was due to happen at the beginning of April 2019, however this has now been placed on hold whilst the House of Commons review it further. Katie Brett, a Chartered Legal Executive from our Wills & Probate team, talks us through the new fees and the current delays with the registry.

When someone dies leaving assets in their name, for example bank accounts, share holdings or property, the executor or administrator of their estate is likely to require a Grant of Probate to deal with these assets.  This is dependent upon the type of assets they had and how much they are worth.  For example, some banks will not release funds on a deceased’s estate without a Grant of Probate and you cannot sell a deceased’s property without one.

Why is my Grant of Probate being delayed?

In a time in their life where they are dealing with the loss and grief of a loved one, further stress is now being felt by families as the delays in obtaining probate are causing problems for people dealing with the deceased’s estate and, in particular, is leading to those property sales, which are dependent on probate, to fall through. 

With the country speculating on how Brexit will affect our futures, Joe Public is currently being left to deal with a disappointing property market.  It is becoming difficult for people to find a buyer for their property, so dealing with a sale falling through due to delays at the Probate Registries can be a bit of a “sucker punch”.

Having introduced a new online system, and due to Government cuts, the Probate Registries appear to be struggling to process the applications they are receiving.  In addition to this, the proposed fee increase is encouraging people to apply for probate as soon as possible and the number of applications has risen significantly.

Whilst this fee increase was due to come into effect at the beginning of April 2019, this has now been placed on hold whilst the House of Commons review it further.

The new court fees for Probate

At present, a person applying for probate in person is required to pay a Court fee of £215 (this is reduced to £155 when a solicitor is applying on their behalf).  When the new fees come into effect, people can expect to be charged a fee related to the value of the estate as follows: -

- Estates worth less than £50,000 will not be required to pay a fee, therefore saving £215.
- Estates worth from £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, therefore paying an additional £35.
- Estates worth from £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, therefore paying an additional £535.
- Estates worth from £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, therefore paying an additional £2,285.
- Estates worth from £1 million up to £1.6 million with pay £4,000, therefore paying an additional £3,785.
- Estates worth from £1.6 million to £2 million will pay £5,000, therefore paying an additional £4,785.
- Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, therefore paying an additional £5,785.

With these proposed increases on the horizon, it is not surprising to see such an increase in applications for probate and anyone who is being appointed as an executor of an estate, or anyone drafting a Will appointing executors, should bear in mind that they could be required to pay a significant up-front fee when applying for probate in the future.

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Do you need help with Probate administration? At Amphlett Lissimore, our experienced teams based at Crystal Palace and West Wickham, can advise you on what needs to be done to settle a loved one’s affairs. Call us today on 020 8771 5254 for your free initial assessment.

About the Author

Katie Brett works in our private client department and is based in our Crystal Palace office. She also provides services at our Camberwell, Bromley and Raynes Park offices, with home visits available on request.

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