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What’s happening with probate fees?

Due to the forthcoming General Election, the changes to probate fees due to be introduced at the start of this month have been postponed. Indeed, the changes which were unpopular with many may be dropped completely once the Election has taken place.

The Government had planned to introduce a tiered system for probate fees dependent on the size of the estate. The new fees would have removed estates under £50,000 from liability for probate fees but imposed much higher charges on estates over this value as follows:

Estate Size Fee Payable
£0 – £50,000 Probate not required, £0 fee
£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
£2m+ £20,000

 

This tiered system would have replaced the current flat fee which stands at £155 for solicitors applying for probate and £215 for friends and family applying for probate. The new system was designed to raise income for the Ministry of Justice, with an estimated income of £300 million per year to help the courts and tribunals.

The changes were however very unpopular with many as the new fees were not only much higher than the current fees, but the process of applying for probate is the same no matter what the size of the estate. So probate would have cost £16,000 more for an estate worth £2m than for an estate worth £500,000, but exactly the same amount of work would have been carried out to do the application.

In addition, the probate fees would have been payable upfront, prior to Executors being reimbursed by the estate for their costs. This would be very difficult for many people to pay and charities, surviving spouses and partners could have faced financial hardship to make this payment.

For the moment though the changes to the probate fees system have been put on hold and many believe they may be scrapped altogether. We will have to await the outcome of the General Election to find out.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to protect your estate. Here at Flackwoods, we provide tax planning services, including inheritance tax planning. We can also advise you on Trusts to help you minimise your inheritance tax liability and protect individuals and business from financial concerns.

Flackwoods believe these planning services are so important that we offer all our new clients 30 minutes free advice in our offices in Southwater. If you need to apply for a grant probate you may find our blog about obtaining grant of probate useful and you can read this here. We can also assist you with the process of obtaining a Grant of Probate, so please feel free to contact us on 01403 738777.

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