Probate Application Fees to rise
Currently when personal representatives apply for a Grant of Probate in order to administer an estate there is a fixed fee, regardless of the size of the Estate. If the applicant is an individual the fixed fee is £215 however, if the applicant is a professional such as a solicitor or accountant the fixed fee is reduced to £155.
In 2016 the Government announced a proposal to move from a fixed fee to a banded fee structure depending on the value of the estate. The initial proposals would have seen a fee of £20,000 for estates valued at more than £2,000,000.
Due to the 2017 general election these plans were shelved at the time but the Government have now announced that a banded fee structure will be introduced, subject to a consultation document, for applications made after 1 April 2019. The proposed level of fees, however, has been adjusted and although they are still bad news it is not going to be as harsh as previously announced.
Subject to the consultation document the probate application fees from 1 April 2019 will be dependent on the taxable value of the Estate and are likely to be as follows:
|Value of Estate||Fee payable|
|Up to £50,000||£0|
|£50,000 to £300,000||£250|
|£300,000 to £500,000||£750|
|£500,000 to £1m||£2,500|
|£1m to £1.6m||£4,000|
|£1.6m to £2m||£5,000|
Unlike the existing fee structure, there will be no reduction in the fees if the applicant is a professional rather than an individual.
An application for probate enables personal representatives to deal with assets held in the sole name of the Deceased or assets held as Tenants in Common. The fear is that the level of fees may encourage individuals to simply hold all assets jointly so that they pass to the joint owner on survivorship and do not require probate or may lead to assets being gifted in lifetime leaving them financially vulnerable.
Although this can be effective in straight forward cases it can lead to inequality between children and may not achieve the end result that the individual desires for his or her estate.
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