Government proposes changes to probate fees

Harriet Meyer / 18 April 2016

The cost of applying for a grant of probate is about to change.

Sorting out the estates of loved ones who’ve died is often a difficult task – and to add to people’s woes the Government is proposing hefty rises in probate fees.

These are charged when someone dies and leaves property to their relatives, and the amount paid is being hiked to raise an extra £250 million for government coffers.  

What is probate?

A grant of probate is obtained to deal with property, money and possessions of a relative after they die.

At present a flat £155 fee is charged if you choose to do-it-yourself, or £215 fee if you use a solicitor. It’s free if the estate is worth less than £5,000.

However, this is being replaced by a series of tiered charges, seeing charges amount to as much as £20,000 in some cases.

The new system

How much you pay depends upon the value of the estate, with the Government currently consulting on exactly how the system will work.

At present, proposals state the fee will be nothing if the value is under £50,000, which the Government says means that 57% of estates will pay nothing. However, the fee could be as much as £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million.

Soaring property values over recent years have prompted criticism of the changes, which will see many families finding they face higher fees.

What happens if I die without leaving a Will?

How probate works

Typically the executor named on the Will applies for probate to deal with the estate of the person who has died. 

This has to be done to make it a legal right to handle the estates. It enables executors to access bank and building society accounts – as well as any other investments and assets.

Full details of new system

  • £300 on 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 £1 million.
  • £8,000 for estates worth more than £1 million and up to £1.6 million.
  • £12,000 for estates worth more than £1.6 million and up to £2 million.
  • £20,000 for estates worth more than £2 million.

Common mistakes that people make in their Wills and how to avoid them.

More information

Go to the website and your local probate registry office, which can offer guidance.

Remember you don’t have to automatically go to a solicitor named as executor to carry out probate. They may be expensive, and you can seek out fixed-fee services. 

However, be aware there may be additional fees as things arise during the sorting of an estate. 

For more tips and useful information, browse our money articles.

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