The Government are again pushing ahead with their plans to significantly increase probate application fees which will be calculated according to the value of the assets left by an individual when they pass away. This could result in the beneficiaries of some deceased estates paying up to £6,000 in probate fees.
Whilst the increase in probate fees has been proposed by Government Ministers for some time, the matter was shelved prior to the last General Election amid criticism that the increase would effectively be an additional “death tax”.
A Grant of Probate or Grant of Representation will be required by numerous institutions such as the Land Registry and banks and building societies when assets in an estate amount to in excess of £15,000 – £20,000. Without a Grant, the Executors/Administrators are unable to access bank accounts, sell shares, or transfer/sell property especially when in the deceased’s sole name.
Currently, those who apply for a Grant of Probate pay a one-off fee of £155 if they instruct a solicitor to make the application on their behalf. The fee increases to £215 if an application is made by an applicant in person without the assistance of a solicitor. This does not differ depending on the value of the estate.
To illustrate the increase in fees under the new proposals:
For estates valued at:
- More than £2m will now pay a probate fee of £6,000.
- Between £1.6m and £2m will pay a probate fee of £5,000.
- Between £1m and £1.6m will pay a fee of £4,000.
- Between £500,000 to £1m the probate fee pay-able will be £2,500.
- Estates worth from £300,000 up to £500.000 will pay £750, a rise of £535.
- Less than £50,000 will not incur a probate fee.
Many have argued that the increase in probate fees, calculated based on the value of the deceased’s estate, are unmerited given that there is little difference in the amount of work involved in administering estates of different values.
The new fee system is likely to be introduced as of April 2019. We therefore recommend that those who are currently administering deceased estates make every effort to submit their applications to the Probate Registry as soon as possible. Any delays in doing so could lead to criticism of the Executors/Administrators by the beneficiaries of the estate.
We are happy to assist in making those applications and should you require assistance then please contact our Private Client Department on 01792 650000.
It may also be beneficial for individuals to speak to us regarding their own Will and lifetime planning which may assist in reducing the probate fee payable upon their subsequent death. Advice regarding life-time planning may also assist in mitigating an individual’s inheritance tax liability.