Historically probate court fees have been a fixed amount (currently £155 when applying through Solicitors or £215 when making a personal application) with a charge of 50p per office copy of the Grant required. The only exception to this is where an estate is valued at less than £5,000 where there is no fee payable.
As from April 2019, the probate fees are set to be paid on a sliding scale dependent on the value of the estate rather than the fixed amount. For estates worth less than £50,000; no fee will be payable. However, for estates exceeding this sum, the fees will range between £2,500 to £6,000.
It is currently, and will continue to be the case, that executors will need to fund the probate court fees upfront before access can be gained to the deceased’s bank accounts. Currently; most banks are willing to release funds for inheritance tax prior to probate being granted and may be willing to release funds for court fees too. However, often estates are property rich and cash poor and it may be necessary for executors to fund the fees personally. They will of course be able to reimburse themselves from the estate when the estate is in funds.
The government have failed to explain why it is choosing to place this burden on bereaved families and have failed to comment upon why the changes were not included in the recent Budget.
Although the exact date when the new fees will take effect is not yet known, they are anticipated to apply for applications received after that date rather than deaths which occur after that date. We recommend that if you are in the early stages of dealing with an estate that an application is made sooner rather than later.