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Probate Fee Changes Are Set To Affect Many Families

View profile for Chris Shaw
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I am looking to get my affairs in order by making a Will and I have heard there are some changes afoot regarding probate fees. I’m unclear about the details – if my estate is worth an estimated £300,000, what will this mean in terms of probate payable?

If, as you are planning, you leave a Will, you will be doing much to simplify the process for your executor, upon your death. If you leave a Will your appointed executor will more than likely need to apply to the Probate Registry to obtain a Grant of Probate to allow them to deal with the estate and gather any assets, before paying any outstanding bills, and distribute the remainder of your estate according to the terms of your Will.

There is a fee paid to the Probate Registry when applying for the Grant of Probate. In the past few weeks, the government has resurrected plans for a hike in probate fees on larger estates, replacing the current flat rate payment with a sliding scale, based on the value of the estate.

At the moment, families pay a flat £215 to the Probate Registry, or £155 if they apply through a solicitor, on estates worth more than £5,000. In England and Wales, this threshold will be lifted to £50,000 from April 2019. However, if the estate is worth more than this, families will face an increase in probate fees. So, estates worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will be charged £250, while the maximum charge is £6,000 for estates worth £2 million or more.

The proposed increased fees will be:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing
  • Estates worth from £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250
  • Estates worth from £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750
  • Estates worth from £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500
  • Estates worth from £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000
  • Estates worth from £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000

The Ministry of Justice estimates that, under the new system, 80 percent of estates will pay no more than £750, which still amounts to a significant fee increase. 

However, there are some concerns around how, in practice, executors will pay the new probate fees and how the money will be recovered from the estate, since assets will often be frozen until the executors receive the Grant of Probate. The Ministry of Justice has said it will publish a guidance document before the Statutory Instrument comes into force.

Making a Will and dealing with future probate issues can be complex and it is important to seek professional legal advice to guide you through the process and any potential issues.

For more information on this or any probate or Lifetime Planning enquiry please contact us here.