Probate fee price hike on the way

In 2017 the Government dropped it’s plans to increase the fee charged to obtain a grant of probate ahead of the general election. Proposals have now been made again to introduce new probate fees.

The current fee for obtaining a grant of probate is £215 if you are applying as an individual and £155 if you apply through a solicitor. Estates valued at under £5,000 are exempt from the fee.

In 2017 the Government proposed to increase the fees on a sliding scale according to the value of the deceased assets left in their Will. The proposals were extremely unpopular due to the size of the price hikes. For instance, the wealthiest estates would have been charged £20,000 as opposed to the current £215 or £155. The proposals quickly became tagged as a stealth tax and the proposed increases were abandoned.

After considering the responses received to the last consultation, the Government again proposes to introduce new probate fees.

Once again they will be based on a sliding scale according to the value of the estate. This time, the highest value estates will attract a £6,000 charge for those estates worth more than £2m.

However, there is some good news in that the exempt estates threshold will increase from £5,000 to £50,000 which, it is proposed, will mean that approximately 25,000 estates annually will be exempt from paying any probate fee.

The proposed new fees will take effect from April 2019 and are:
• Estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing, meaning estates worth between £5,000 and £50,000 will save £215 compared to the current system.
• Estates worth from £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £35
• Estates worth from £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £535
• Estates worth from £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,285
• Estates worth from £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,785
• Estates worth from £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,785
• Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,785

The proposed increases could be problematic for many executors and personal representatives who will be faced with the conundrum of how to fund the probate fee, particularly in the highest value estates as the estate assets are likely to be frozen until the grant of probate has been obtained.

Not all probate applications are straightforward for a number of reasons, and the proposed fee increases will add to those reasons. We suggest that any executor or personal representative seeks specialist help at such a distressing time.

For further assistance, please contact our New Enquiry Team on 0114 249 6666 to book an appointment.