When someone dies and they have written a Will, the Executor is responsible for dealing with the estate.  In many cases it will be necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate, which is the legal tool the Executor needs to use to collect in the assets and settle any debts.

A Grant of Probate is obtained via the Probate Courts and a fee is charged for the cost of providing that service.  If you wish to apply for Probate yourself, the fee costs £215 or if you use a solicitor to handle it for you, the fee falls to £155.

As we have reported previously, the Government decided to replace this system with a sliding scale of charges, determined by the value of the estate left by the deceased.  The charges range from nothing at all to £20,000. The table below shows how the new fees would work.

 

Breakdown of new probate court fees

Value of estate (before inheritance tax)

New Probate fee

Up to £50,000

£0

£50,000 – £300,000

£300

£300,000 – £500,000

£1,000

£500,000 – £1m

£4,000

£1m – £1.6m

£8,000

£1.6m – £2m

£12,000

Above £2m

£20,000

Given the snap election in June, the fee changes have now been put on hold, but have the potential to be put into force or changed even further by whichever party is elected.

For most people, the potential changes actually mean that the cost of Probate will fall. According to the Ministry of Justice, around 58% of estates are worth less than £50,000 or are otherwise exempt from requiring a Grant of Probate. That is not the case for many of our clients.

A further 23% of estates are worth between £50,000 and less than £300,000, meaning only a small price rise. However, large estates face a potentially significant extra cost.

Critics have dubbed this system a stealth ‘death tax’, but it remains likely that the next Government would still introduce the changes despite a great deal of opposition.

We will be keeping a close eye on proceedings and will advise our clients of the eventual outcome of the new probate court fees in due course. But if you have any questions, do get in touch.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, 26th April 2017 at 2:31 pm and is filed under Estate Planning. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.