Changes to probate fees

The government has resurrected plans which were dropped ahead of the 2017 general election for a sharp hike in probate fees.

At present, the fee for probate paid to the Government is a flat £215 for individuals and £155 for those applying through a solicitor. Estates valued at under £5,000 are exempted.

Justice minister Lucy Frazer said that under a new banded structure, estates under £50,000 will be exempt from the charge and the maximum fee will be £6,000, payable on estates worth more than £2m. Between these two amounts, there will be a sliding scale based on the value of the estate with no estate paying more than ½%:

  • Estate value of <£50,000: Nil charge
  • Estate value of £50,000 – £300,000: £250
  • Estate value of £300,000 – £500,000: £750
  • Estate value of £500,000 – £1m: £2,500
  • Estate value of £1m – £1.6m: £4,000
  • Estate value of £1.6m – £2m: £5,000
  • Estate value of >£2m: £6,000

The new fees are expected to be applicable from April 2019.

Stuart Noakes, Head of Tax, comments:

“For estates over £2m this is the equivalent of reducing the IHT Nil Rate Band from £325,000 to £310,000. In the case where married couples/civil partners leave their estates to each other, there will be an element of doubling up of the charges on second death. There are ways to structure your estate so that some or all of it does not have to go through the probate process, which has always saved time for beneficiaries and now can save a substantial amount of money. It is now even more important that Estate Planning advice is taken to ensure that the maximum amount of your estate passes to your beneficiaries.”