Many families will have to pay more in probate fees from April 2019. That’s according to new proposals that see a hike in the cost of applying for probate.
The Government has claimed that fees are necessary to fund an effective and fair court and tribunals system. However, under the plans, some grieving relatives will have to pay death taxes of up to £6,000 to secure legal control over a deceased’s estate.
What are the main changes?
At present, the current cost of securing probate is £215, or £155 for families who use a solicitor. But, under the new plans, the Government has linked the charge to the size of the estate. This means that:
* Inheritances of less than £50,000 will be exempt (the current threshold is just £5,000)
* Estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay a fee of £250
* Those between £300,001 and half a million pounds will now pay £750
* Estates between £500,001 and a million will pay £2,500
* The cost could go up to £6,000 for estates estimated at over £2 million.
The reforms will also make it easier for grieving families to make the application online while helping people lacking in computer literacy.
Are the changes fair?
While it might seem fair that larger estates have to pay more, these fees must be paid upfront by loved ones (who might not have access to this kind of money).
This also fundamentally changes the fee-structure for applying for probate. Until now, the cost has existed to cover the average costs of making a grant of probate. However, the new fee structure is hugely disproportionate leaving some people to argue that it is actually a “stealth tax”.
However, according to the Government, the new banded fee model represents a “fair and more progressive way to pay for probate services compared to the current flat fee”. It also argues that, for those who do pay, “around 80% of estates will pay £750 or less”. It has said that fees will never be unaffordable and that options will exist to help families choose a way to pay which suits their circumstances.
Nevertheless, with assets from an estate frozen until the executors receive the grant of probate, questions still exist over how some executors will manage to pay the probate fees. Especially for people who may have little money in the bank, despite valuable estates and properties.
To find out more about how the new probate fee structure could impact your estate, speak to one of our expert team by calling 01634 353 658.