Rogers & Norton News

Wills and Trusts

Probate fees set to increase

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Unfortunately, it looks like the article that we published in April 2016, predicting a substantial rise in probate fees in England and Wales is about to become fact.

The Government has officially confirmed that probate fees will change to a banded system in May 2017, where fees increase with the value of the estate – this is going to replace the current flat fee system.

No fee is going to be payable for estates with a value less than £50,000, but the charges will increase rapidly beyond that threshold, rising to a maximum of £20,000 for estates over £2 million. On top of this, probate applications are going to be excluded from the fee remissions scheme for individuals who cannot afford them.

The cost of probate fees increased sharply in April 2014, when the cost of an application through a solicitor rose by over 300% from £45 to £155, and the cost of a personal application increased to £215.

The first indication of an increase was published in February 2016 and attracted overwhelming opposition, especially in view of the government’s subsequent admission to parliament that the Probate Registry was already self-funding on the existing fee structure. The Ministry of Justice’s consultation response recorded only 63 out of 829 respondents agreeing with linking probate fees to the value of the estate, and 695 disagreeing. The majority of the responses considered that the proposed fees were far too high and because they would be set above cost recovery levels, would effectively constitute a form of taxation.

Laura Rumsey, solicitor at Rogers & Norton commented “We are really disappointed that the views of the vast majority of respondents to the consultation have been ignored and the proposals are set to be implemented – this amounts to a new tax on bereaved families.”

Laura adds “The new charges will really impact cash-poor property owners, especially rural families with small farms, as beneficiaries will need to raise a considerable sum to obtain probate. The need for good quality legal advice from the outset will be even more important, as mistakes could be made that are detrimental to the future management of the estate, to avoid the charges at a later date.  It may also be a good time for families to consider their Wills and the roles their Executors will need to play in relation to the change in fee structure.

At Rogers & Norton we have a knowledgeable and experienced team who are able to offer advice on how best to plan for the future and ensure that all clients are fully aware of how their estates will be dealt with.  Our team also deals with:-

1)    Will planning

2)    Tax and Estate Planning

3)    Lasting Powers Of Attorney

4)    Deputyships

5)    Later Life Planning

For further details contact Laura Rumsey at lr@rogers-norton.co.uk or on 01603 675645.