As of May 2017, the Government will introduce a dramatic increase in probate fees, despite astounding opposition.
Currently the flat figure for probate applied for by friends or family is £215, or £155 if a solicitor finalises the process.
However, the Government’s new pricing structure will soon been based on the total value of an estate. The adjustment in fees means that, in extreme cases estates worth £2m or more will have to pay £20,000 to maintain the wishes of the deceased's will.
The probate fee is in addition to inheritance tax, which is charged at 40% on assets above each person's £325,000 threshold.
Estates below £50,000 will pay nothing at all - according to the Government this applies to 58% of all estates in England and Wales.
All estates worth more than £50,000 will be forced to pay increased fees. Those between £50,000 and £300,000 will pay £300; estates worth over £1m, but those with estates less than £1.6m will pay £8,000; and those above £2m, £20,000 - a 9,000% increase.
The Government commented that no estate will pay a fee that is more than 1% of its value. It said 92% of estates would pay £1,000 or less, 98% would pay £4,000 or less and fewer than 2% of estates would pay £8,000 to £20,000.
Sean White, Senior Partner at Courtyard Solicitors in Wimbledon, South West London & Totnes in South Devon commented: “The increase in fees will particularly affect people seeking a grant on estates over £500,000. This may seem a lot but as this includes the deceased’s home many people may be affected by this.
The problem is that the fee has to be paid at the time the grant is applied for and there does not appear to be any provisions whereby it can be paid at a later date, when the assets of the estate have been collected in.
If the deceased had monies in a bank or building society it may be that they would be willing to pay this direct to cover the cost as they do at the moment in respect of Inheritance Tax but this is by no means certain.
If they are not willing to do so or the beneficiaries do not have the funds themselves to lend then they will have to seek to borrow the monies which will increase the cost.
If anyone is in the process of thinking about obtaining a grant it would be worthwhile endeavouring to make the application before the new fees come into force in May 2017,” added Sean.
If you require any further information or have any queries about the new probate fees and how it may affect you don’t hesitate to contact Courtyard Solicitors, experts in probate law with offices in both Wimbledon, South West London and Totnes, South Devon.
For more information about probate law visit our Probate Services page.