The UK Government has announced that probate fees will be reviewed as part of an overhaul of court fees, reversing their previous commitment to switch probate fees from a flat fee to a banded approach. Changes were due to take place in April 2019, but will now be considered as part of wider reforms.

The Ministry of Justice has announced that they intend to reform probate fees “as part of a wider review”. However, the Brexit negotiations have taken precedence in Parliament, meaning that the planned review does not yet have a start date.

Key points:

  • What are probate fees?
  • What are the current probate fees?
  • Probate fees were to increase from April 2019 (changes now part of a wider review)
  • When are probate fees paid?
  • Planning your inheritance

What are probate fees?

Probate fees are paid by the executors of an estate when a person dies. This process allows the legal representatives of a deceased person to take control of the assets, and to distribute these assets according to the will.

Effectively, probate fees are a tax on the estate; any probate fees increases are an increased tax burden on top of the inheritance tax also payable by the estate.

What are the current probate fees before the increased charge?

Currently the probate fees are £155 for solicitors, and £215 for individuals. Probate fees are currently payable regardless of the size of the estate.

Probate fees increases from April 2019

The UK Government previously announced that probate fees would switch from a flat fee to a banded approach from April 2019.  This change has now been reversed, and will be assessed as part of a wider review into court fees generally. Effectively, the larger the value of an estate, the greater the fee would have been, as is set out below. Smaller estates would have seen a benefit, as fees would have been waived where the total value of assets is less than £50,000.

Value of estate Current probate fees Proposed probate fees Change Effective additional tax
Up to £50,000 £155 or £215 £0 -£215 n/a
£50,000 to £300,000 £155 or £215 £250 +£35 Up to 0.07% extra
£300,000 to £500,000 £155 or £215 £750 +£535 Up to 0.18% extra
£500,000 to £1 million £155 or £215 £2,500 +£2,285 Up to 0.46% extra
£1 million to £1.6 million £155 or £215 £4,000 +£3,785 Up to 0.38% extra
£1.6 million to £2 million £155 or £215 £5,000 +£4,785 Up to 0.30% extra
Over £2 million £155 or £215 £6,000 +£5,785 Up to 0.29% extra

When are probate fees paid?

The additional probate fees are not the end of the matter. Unfortunately, the new rules mean that estates will also have to pay the fees in advance of the probate being granted. This means that executors may have to fund the cost of the charges themselves, but claim back the probate fees from the estate. This could cause financial issues, or may lead to borrowing to fund the probate fees. Some banks may be prepared to release cash to pay for the probate fees.

Planning your inheritance?

Your assets are worth a considerable amount and you want to maximise this potential in order to secure a lasting legacy for your family’s future. Alternatively, you may want to pass your money on to another person, or charity.

You want your hard-earned money to provide the biggest benefit for your family, and so you want to do what you can to avoid inheritance tax. Overall, you want to control how your money is passed on, so you can be sure you always have enough for your own needs.

Our Prosper service is designed to help people like you to:

  • Control your future
  • Save inheritance tax
  • See the benefits of your money
  • Be sure you never run out of money

Contact us to discuss your situation in confidence with an experienced, professional financial planner.

Click here to download our free mini guide on Planning Your Inheritance.

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