Bereaved families applying for probate could be considerably worse off if they wait until April, when changes to probate fees will be introduced, a Yorkshire law firm is warning.
The fee payable for applying for either a Grant of Probate, which confirms the executor of the will has the authority to deal with the estate, or a Grant of Letters of Administration for those without a will, is currently fixed at £155 for people applying through a solicitor.
However, from 6th April, the fee will be calculated on a sliding scale, depending on the size of the estate.
Although some people will benefit from the changes, because estates worth less than £50,000 won’t pay any fees at all, most people will be worse off because estates of between £50,000 and £300,000 will be charged £250, and for estates worth £2 million or more, the charge will soar to £6,000.
Neil Shaw, a partner at LCF Law and head of the firm’s Personal Law team, said: “Applying for probate enables an individual to sell the deceased’s property and deal with their investments and banks accounts, so it’s always necessary when someone dies.
“A key point of the upcoming changes is that the fee payable will depend on the date that the application for the Grant of Probate is submitted, rather than the date of the deceased’s death.
“Therefore, anyone involved in the estate of somebody who has recently died, needs to act swiftly and submit the application prior to the increase in fees or else it could cost thousands of pounds more than is necessary.”
He added: “Unfortunately these changes appear to be a stealth tax. Until now the fixed charge of £155 has been an administrative fee to reflect the work that the Probate Registry does to issue a Grant.
“This work is very similar whether an estate is worth £50,000 or £2 million, so the new charges are simply be a tax on larger estates.
“Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding these fees which will simply become an easy revenue stream for H M Courts and Tribunal Service.”