Financial & Legal News

Probate Fees set to Rise From May

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From this May probate fees will increase and on some estates this could push the bill up by £1000s warned Partner and Head of Private Client, Daniel Prince.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will push through an increase to charges for processing forms, which will obviously have a knock on effect on the relatives of the deceased and their legal bills.

The huge rise in the fees for applications for grants of probate has been dubbed a 'stealth tax' on estates.

Currently a flat fee of £155 in probate fees is paid by executors if the application is made by a solicitor.  This rises to £215 if the executor is applying in person without a solicitor.  This is for estates worth £5,000 or more, to process the estate and allow families to access money from banks, building societies and other financial firms, and sell properties and other assets.

However from May 2017 there will be an incremental rise in fees and as property is taken into the equation this will have an effect on many more estates.

The Ministry of Justice says that the charges will now be linked to the size of an estate, setting the bottom rate at £300 for estates worth £50,000 to £300,000, and escalating to £20,000 for estates worth £2million-plus.

“Probate fees must be paid even in instances where an estate is left entirely to a spouse, what would have been coming to you anyway is now going to attract a far greater fee and some clients could find it difficult to raise these funds,” said Mr Prince.

The initial threshold will be raised to £50,000 from £5,000. After that, fees paid will be banded depending on the size of the estate, as follows:

  • £300 for estates worth more than £50,000 and up to £300,000
  • £1,000 for estates worth more than £300,000 and up to £500,000
  • £4,000 for estates worth more than £500,000 and up to £1million
  • £8,000 for estates worth more than £1million and up to £1.6million
  • £12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6million and up to £2million
  • £20,000 for estates worth more than £2million
  • Estates under £50,000 are exempt from charges

Commenting on the new fees, Mr Prince added:  “If anyone is currently in the early stages of sorting out an estate I would strongly advise that you expedite your application for the grant so as to avoid being caught out.

“I currently have a client whose fees could go up from £155 to £4,000 if the application is not submitted in time.

“With regard to the increases it is sad to see that the Probate Court is now adopting the court fee increases that the Civil and Family Courts have recently introduced, the net effect of which is that clients will be paying far more for the same service.

“In my opinion and in simple terms the Government is seeking for individuals to fund the court service and not many people will be exempt.”

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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