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Probate fees

Update on the proposed Probate fees in 2019

| Published on April 23, 2019

Sue Nicolson, solicitor at Humphries Kirk in Crewkerne, explains the upcoming increase in proposed probate fees and how it might affect families from April 2019.

“You may recall the previous article I wrote about the imminent increase in Probate fees. Since we are now more than half-way through April, I thought it was worth an update.

“The schedule for the Probate fee increase has become a casualty – perhaps a welcome one – of the ongoing Brexit debates consuming Parliament time over the last couple of months.

“The Ministry of Justice announced at the end of March that they have not yet been able to find Parliamentary time for the required approval motion. With the matter of Brexit still dominating the political agenda after the Easter recess, it is therefore unclear when this motion will be brought to Parliament. Since a new Statutory Instrument is required to change the fees, there must be 21 days’ notice before they come into effect.

“Further good news is that the Ministry has also announced a temporary easing of the procedure for Probate applications where HMRC clearance is required. Ordinarily, this HMRC clearance is required before a Probate application can be made. This adds a further 4 to 5 weeks to the application timeline, and with the looming fee increase this has been a concern to both legal professionals and their client families. The Ministry has stated that Probate applications can now be made in parallel with the HMRC clearance, which may enable Executors to avoid the increased fee.

“My advice is still to proceed as soon as possible with a Probate application, as previous announcements have been issued with minimal notice and without fanfare – for obvious reasons. Whilst there is still some debate about whether the Probate charge is genuinely a fee, or instead a tax (and if the latter, then Parliamentary debate and approval is required – no doubt bringing further delays) the Ministry has confirmed that they will press on with this introduction.

“Finally, if the estate of a loved one contains assets owned solely by them and worth less than £50,000, I would advise you to wait for the changes to come into effect, as no fee will be payable under the new system”.

As a reminder, here are the details of the new fees schedule:

                Value of estate (before inheritance tax)                                                    Fee payable
                Up to £50,000 or exempt from requiring a grant of probate £0
                Exceeds £50,000 but does not exceed £300,000 £250
                Exceeds £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000 £750
                Exceeds £500,000 but does not exceed £1m £2500
                Exceeds £1m but does not exceed £1.6m £4000
                Exceeds £1.6m but does not exceed £2m £5000
                Above £2m £6000

 

Proposed probate increases

If you have any questions regarding the upcoming rise in probate fees, or any private client matters including Wills, administration of estates, Lasting Powers of Attorney or Court of Protection applications, please contact your local branch of Humphries Kirk for advice.

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