28 Feb 2019 3:21 PM

Proposed changes to introduce a sliding scale of probate fees will be brought back before the House of Commons by a ‘statutory instrument’ which is a way of introducing a change without the need for an Act of Parliament. A date has yet to be set for the hearing.

What are probate fees?

Payable up front, a probate fee is payable to the court to cover the administration charge of granting probate which allows executors to deal with the financial matters of a deceased person’s estate. The level of work in granting probate does not vary on the size of the estate involved.

Currently, probate fees are £215 (or £155 if the probate application is by a solicitor or qualified professional such as ourselves).

What are the proposed changes?

There are a proposed six fee bands levied on the total estate value.

 Estate Value Probate Fee 
 £50,000 - £300,000  £250
 £300,000 - £500,000  £1,000
 £500,000 - £1m   £4,000
 £1m - £1.6m  £8,000
 £1.6m - £2m  £12,000
 £2m and over  £20,000

Who will the changes affect?

According to estimates, the increase in fees could net an additional £145m in its first year and some 300,000 families could be affected.

Although it could be argued that if inheriting a £2m plus property, £20,000 is not excessive, but it is payable up front, which may in itself be a challenge for some.

There are situations where the fees could cause financial pressure. A typical example is where a family need to sell a property to pay the inheritance tax due on a £2m estate.  They would need a grant of probate to be able to sell the property, but would need to pay the £20,000 probate fees up front before they could do so.

The Law Society has referred to this proposal as a stealth tax. Property values in the South East mean that it is likely that the bulk of the higher probate charges will be suffered by families in the region.

We are here to help you with probate

We are experienced in dealing with probate matters for clients and can guide you through the process of non contentious probate. Alternatively we can provide you with support at specific times when you need help with particular aspects. For further advice please contact us.