Are you applying for probate in England or Wales? You should be aware of changes to the cost of applications as of 26 January 2022.
What is probate?
In England and Wales, if someone has died, their next of kin, or those named in the will, need to obtain a legal document called a grant of representation, which gives them the legal right to deal with any property, money and possessions. This is known as probate.
The process and terminology differ across the UK – see ‘Elsewhere in the UK’ below.
You can find more information about probate in our article ‘What is probate?’
What are the changes?
The UK government announced in July 2021 that it planned to change the probate fee system. It consulted on the plans, explaining that it would introduce a single fee to cover the cost of delivery without making a profit. The proposed plans were officially enacted in December 2021.
As a result, for estates over the £5,000 threshold, the fee as of 26 January 2022 is £273. This cost is the same whether you apply yourself or you are paying a solicitor to act on your behalf.
As before, there is usually no need to apply for probate if the estate is worth less than £5,000.
Previously the fees were £215 for personal applications, and £155 if you applied via a solicitor.
What is the impact?
While the new fee is a lot more reasonable than earlier proposals, the removal of a lower ‘solicitor rate’ may discourage the use of a probate professional. This could result in more errors, possibly leading to delays or contentious probate claims being made later on.
To avoid these issues, it may be prudent to engage the services of a professional to administer the estate, which would ensure the correct estate searches and checks are carried out.
If you would like professional advice on dealing with probate, you can talk to a TEP, who are experts in inheritance and related issues: https://advisingfamilies.org/uk/find-a-tep/
Elsewhere in the UK
The legal document is called ‘confirmation’ in Scotland and ‘grant of probate’ in Northern Ireland and the process in each country differs slightly from that in England and Wales. You can find out more here:
The threshold in Northern Ireland is £10,000, with an application fee of £261 for estates over the threshold.
In Scotland, for ‘small’ estates with a gross value of (currently) £36,000 or less, executors are entitled to free assistance with obtaining confirmation from the local Sheriff Court. A fee is currently only charged for estates above £50,000, with £266 charged for estates between £50,000 and £250,000 and £532 charged for estates exceeding £250,000.