A Chilling Forecast: England and Wales to See a Sharp Rise in Probate Fees from April 2019
The Government has announced major changes to probate fees, which means applications for a Grant of Probate may cost some families £6,000 or more – unless the estate is worth less than £50,000, in which case no fee will be payable on application.
Currently, probate fees – paid when administering someone’s estate after they die – are fixed at £0 for estates worth £5,000 or less and £215 (or £155 when applying through a solicitor) for estates valued over £5,000.
The good news is that the £0 fee threshold is set to extend to estates worth up to £50,000 from April 2019, which means that approximately 25,000 estates per year will be exempt from paying probate fees to the Probate Registry.
The bad news, however, is that if the estate’s value is higher than £50,000, applicants will see a sharp increase in probate fees. Estates that are worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will be charged £250, while estates with a value of £300,000 or more will be charged on a sliding scale up to a maximum charge of £6,000 for estates worth £2 million or more.
These changes could also prove challenging for executors if the deceased was ‘capital rich but cash poor’ meaning they had little money in their bank account but significant wealth tied up in property or investments which cannot be accessed until the Grant of Probate has been obtained. On a practical note this means that unless funds are freed to cover the probate costs the executors will have to pay the fees personally.