Probate Fees increase April 2019

probate costsAssuming no surprises happen in Parliament and no challenges, (and given the current almost exclusive focus on Brexit – it seems unlikely) the fees for a probate application will be increased from April 2019.

Currently the fee (Solicitor Applications) is £155 flat fee for all estates over £5,000. If the application doesn’t go through a solicitor then the current fee is £215 for all estates valued over £5,000.

The proposal is that the fee should only start for estates valued at £50,000 or more and ramp up against the scale shown below.

  • Estates valued less than £50,000 will pay nothing
  • Estates valued between £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250
  • Estates valued between £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750
  • Estates valued between £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500
  • Estates valued between £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000
  • Estates valued between £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000
  • Estates valued more than £2 million will pay £6,000

There will be a guidance document published prior to the introduction of the new fee structure – Guidance on ways to pay for Probate fees.

For those with Estates large enough for the new fee structure to make a significant impact there are a few things which you might consider as a way of minimising the fee payable. In all cases it is well worth taking professional advice as the reduction in fees in one area might have other implications which you had not considered.

Life-time Gifts – under the Inheritance Tax laws any gift you have given within 7 years of your death may well be subject to IHT – however, it might reduce the cost of the Probate application.

Survivorship – any assets which will pass by law of Survivorship (e.g. property and joint bank accounts) are not part of the valuation for Probate and are therefore not counted in the total assessed for Probate fees.

Life Insurance – Policies held in trust also fall outside of the estate

Life-Time Trusts – although these may still be considered for IHT purposes (if reservation of benefit applies), assets in the Trust are distributed according to the discretion of the Trustees and not by the Grant – therefore should not be counted to the total for the Probate fees calculation.

As with all things relating to Wills and Probate we recommend that professional advice is taken – it is just too easy to assume that you haven’t missed anything important which in the end comes back to bite you or your beneficiaries.