The Government is planning probate fee hikes, resulting from changes to the current structure for probate fees.
Probate is the process through which you get permission to deal with a deceased person’s estate. Since 1999, there has been a fixed fee for processing probate applications, but under the new structure, there will be different charging bands, with fees rising according to the size of the estate.
The plan is to use the revenue from this new fee structure to improve the court service.
The intended date for these changes to come into force was April 2019, but there may now be a delay to this due to the ongoing Brexit issue, as Parliament will need to approve the changes first.
Meanwhile, what can you do to avoid paying more in probate fees?
What the Probate Hike Will Mean
The extra you could end up paying in fees is an ascending scale based on what the estate is worth:
- Estates from £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250
- Estates from £300,000 to £500,000 will pay £750
- Estates from £500,000 to £1 million will pay £2,500
- Estates from £1 million to £1.6 million will pay £4,000
- Estates from £1.6 million to £2 million will pay £5,000
- Estates over £2 million will pay £6,000.
Obviously, the biggest increases come with the estates worth the most.
However, estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing at all in probate fees. This previously only applied to estates under £5,000.
How Probate Applications Work
The Probate Registry is part of the High Court. It charges a fee for processing applications for a Grant of Representation. In certain estates, you need this grant to deal with assets such as property, bank accounts and shares, or to deal with any litigation on behalf of the estate.
The grant confirms an executor’s right to act under the will, or, where there is no will, the administrator’s right to act in an intestate estate.
Putting Off Probate
There can be delays to the probate process. Sometimes there is a missing will, or there may be discrepancies that question the will’s validity.
Disagreements or disputes about the validity of a will may take considerable time to resolve.
Sometimes there is no executor named, or the executors who are named are not expecting this and are unprepared.
Executors may have died since the will was written, or may be living abroad.
There can also be delays to probate due to missing beneficiaries of the will, or where beneficiaries are in dispute with each other.
Sometimes administration problems cause third-party delays to probate, such as calculations in valuing the estate and issues over inheritance tax payments.
There may be debts on the estate or problems accessing information.
There is also the impact of bereavement itself, leaving family members in the kind of emotional state where tackling probate seems too difficult.
Can You Avoid the Probate Hikes?
Already there have been delays to the proposed changes because of turmoil in Parliament over Brexit, but eventually they will come into force.
If you have delayed probate for any reason, now is the time to act, and seek professional advice to get things moving.
Advice and Support for Probate