Probate Fees are set to rise
The Government has said that Probate Fees will increase in 2019. What are the implications?
When a person dies, their executor (appointed by Will) or personal representative (when there is no Will) will usually have to apply for the Grant of Probate in order to access and distribute their estate.
They send the Grant to the organisations holding the person’s assets to confirm they are legally entitled to access them. They also use it to show they are entitlted to pay off liabilities and close accounts in the name of the deceased.
Currently, there is a set fee of £215 to obtain a Grant of Probate.
What are the changes?
The new fee to be charged for Probate applications will be calculated on a sliding scale, probably around 0.5% of the value of the estate. Although this doesn’t sound like much, remember the most valuable asset in an estate is usually the house or land. The property market has once again been growing, so a percentage chare is going to have an impact on most people in our area of England.
For example, an estate worth a total of £250,000 will attract a probate fee of £1,250.00, which is an enormous increase on the current fee.
Why are increases being implemented?
The Department of Justice has stated that the Court services (HMCS) are strugging for funding. In seeking to ensure the Courts continue to function, fees are being increased. They argue that where there is a larger estate, there can be a larger fee.
However, there will be no additional services offered, or work done, to justify charging such large fees. Linking the fee payable to the value of the estate is not because applications to adminster more valuable estates cause more work for the Probate Registry. In addition, there is no basis for assuming that the adminstrators of high value estates will have access to the kinds of sums required for payment of the fees.
This basically appears to be an additional inheritance tax, introduced by stealth. So what can families do to prepare for it?
What can you do next?
Make an appointment to see us.
We will consider the likely probate valuation of your estate and discuss the most efficient way to manage your affairs.
If you do not already have one, it is essential to draw up a Will to ensure your estate is distributed in line with your wishes.
It is possible to put a sum of money into trust to cover the cost of the probate fee. This will give your executor access to sufficient funds to cover the probate fee at the required time.