‘Probate’ refers to the administration of a person’s will following their death, and the subsequent distribution of assets according to their wishes. The right to administer a will is given by a ‘grant of probate’ and fees are payable when a surviving spouse or relative apples for this.
If a person dies ‘intestate’ – i.e. without leaving a will – then the terminology changes. Relatives or spouses instead apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’, for which the same fees are payable.
In November last year, the government announced plans to introduce a new sliding scale for probate fees which would have meant steeper charges for larger estates. No charge would have been made for estates worth less than £50,000 but probate applications for estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 would have been cost £250. Probate for higher end estates worth £2 million or more would have cost a full £6,000.
Originally due for introduction in April 2020, the plans were first delayed and have now been abandoned pending a more in-depth review. For the time being at least, probate fees will remain at their current rate of £215 for any estate worth more than £5,000, or £155 if the probate application is made via a solicitor.
A government spokesman explained:
“Fees are necessary to properly fund our world-leading courts system, but we have listened carefully to concerns around changes to those charged for probate and will look at them again as part of a wider review to make sure all fees are fair and proportionate.”
Photo by Phil Dolby via Flickr (Creative Commons)