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As we head towards the end of March, one thing in particular is dominating news and politics. There is a great deal of uncertainty as to what will happen in the days after the 29th March 2019. There is, however, one thing that is guaranteed, which is the fact that three days after 29th March, it will be April.
April is the month in which the Non-contentious Probate (Fees) Order 2018 is scheduled to come into force. There may be little news coverage about this, in fact, unless you look into Hansard (the name given to the transcripts of Parliamentary debates), there has been little information out there whatsoever, since the order was proposed back in 2018.
This is a matter which could have a significant impact on the finances of a number of people, yet there is still no word of the actual date in April when the order will come into force.
There was also promised, ‘a guidance on ways to pay for probate fees’ document which it would appear is yet to see the light of day. It is believed that for situations where Executors are struggling to raise funds to pay the fees, there will be a similar approach to that of inheritance tax. Either the banks will release funds specifically to pay the fees or, in the case where there are no cash assets, Executors may need to apply for a loan.
The reality of the matter is that bereaved families may now face a decision as to whether to apply for probate before or after the order comes into force. To help, the proposed fees are listed below.
|Gross value of the Estate||Fee|
|£50,000 – £300,000||
|£300,000 – £500,000||£750.00|
|£500,000 – £1 million||£2,500.00|
|£1 million – £1.6 million||£4,000.00|
|£1.6 million – £2 million||£5,000.00|
|Over £2 million||£6,000.00|
You will note the fees start at estates over £50,000.00, meaning that if the estate is worth less than this, it will be exempt. This figure is significantly higher than the current £5,000.00 and the new threshold is said to lift 25,000 estates a year, out of fees altogether. If this would apply to you then the prudent thing to do would be to wait for the new structure to be implemented, if you can. Of course a date of when you will have to wait until would be helpful.
Current probate fees are £155.00 if you instruct a solicitor or £215.00 if you make a personal application, this means that all estates besides the 25,000 exempt ones, will see a rise in fees. Some of proposed increases will be substantial and it may be wise to get your application in sooner rather than later, as there is no telling how long after the date is announced, you will have to make your applications.